Varadkar continues to rule out working with Sinn Féin

Varadkar continues to rule out working with Sinn Féin

Fine Gael has continued to rule out working with Sinn Féin in a coalition ahead of the General Election.

The party said long-held differences with Mary Lou McDonald’s party prevents it from relying on support in any coalition government.

Leo Varadkar’s party has shown consistently in polls to be falling behind Fianna Fáil, and within the margin of error to be neck-and-neck with Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Speaking on Sunday while canvassing, it was put to Mr Varadkar that his position on Sinn Féin was hypocritical, as he had long criticised the party for not restoring powersharing in Stormont sooner, and urged them back into government repeatedly in Northern Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said that “the north is different”.

“Northern Ireland is a devolved government, it’s not a sovereign state, and in Northern Ireland the Good Friday Agreement provided for what is effectively an all-party coalition,” he said.

“I don’t think people comparing Stormont with a sovereign parliament like the Dáil is an accurate comparison.”

“The reason we have ruled out working with Sinn Féin is a point of principle,” he added.

“Key policy decisions made by Sinn Féin are taken not by elected representatives but an Ard Comháirle, and we just don’t think that’s proper in a democratic society, and we also have a big problem with their stance on the Special Criminal Court (which Sinn Féin have previously opposed but now say needs reform).”

Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have ruled out working with Sinn Féin, however current numbers in polling show neither could form a government alone, and even with the backing of preferred partners The Green Party and Labour, could still come up short.

Fine Gael has indicated it would be willing to work with Fianna Fáil – however, leader Micheal Martin has ruled out any such pact, noting that Mr Varadkar and his colleagues have maligned his party both before and during the campaign, and he has no interest in forming a government with them post February 8.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the two man parties “don’t want a republican about the place”, because it would challenge the status quo.

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