Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says he has not “slapped down” minister Jim Daly over his talking up a Fine Gael-Sinn Féin coalition.
Mr Varadkar said Mr Daly is someone who speaks his mind like he did in the past.
“He’s someone who’s outspoken and who speaks his mind in a way perhaps that I did a lot in the past, so I’m certainly not slapping anyone down,” the Taoiseach said.
He said Mr Daly is doing a “fabulous job” as minister for mental health.
Mr Daly yesterday moved to deny that he had put his foot in it when he said he had no ideological objections to forming a government with Sinn Féin.
However, he added that he has significant difficulties with the policies put forward by Mary-Lou McDonald’s party, including on Europe.
Speaking in Galway, Mr Varadkar said; “I gave him a very important post as minister for state with special responsibility for people with mental health issues and older people, managing a budget of close to €4bn and I think he’s doing a really good job in that space,” he said despite shooting down comments made by Mr Daly in recent months.
Mr Varadkar said he was “puzzled” as to the obsession around future coalitions and said there are ideological differences between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin which make them incompatible for Government.
Mr Daly yesterday again repeated the belief that he does not see any ideological barrier between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin. But he added: “The objection I have to Sinn Féin in government is based on policy and the platform that they would be putting forward.”
Mr Daly stressed that he did not speak for government and he was only speaking in a personal capacity.
“I’d also like to make the point that I think a lot of my colleagues would share the views that I have. I mean you cannot just say that you will not do business with Sinn Féin because they’re Sinn Féin” he added.
“You must have a valid reason for not doing business with Sinn Féin. They have a legitimate mandate. The people who vote for them are real people and citizens of this state. That has to be acknowledged.”
Sinn Féin has said that it has no objection to talking with Fine Gael or any other party after the next election in order to form a government.
“Would I want to see Fine Gael go into an election with Sinn Fein in the next election” said Mr Daly, “the answer there is no.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved