Taoiseach is ‘cosying up to SF’s Mary Lou’

Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary has said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is cosying up to Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, adding that relations between the two parties are warmer now than ever before.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner for the first time since being appointed, Mr Calleary said that the overtures toward Ms McDonald are not just isolated to the comments from junior minister Jim Daly.

“It is very interesting,” he said. “It is clear it is not just Jim Daly. You can see there is a particularly warm relationship between Leo and Mary Lou which wasn’t there with Gerry Adams.”

Mr Calleary said Mr Varadkar has nowhere near as hostile a relationship as it was with Gerry Adams.

“So, there is a definitely a warming of relations between them.”

He said Mr Daly’s close ties and personal friendship with Mr Varadkar is a signal this is more than one minister giving his personal view.

Mr Varadkar yesterday denied he “slapped down” Mr Daly over his comments but said the two parties are not compatible.

However, there has been a noticeable thawing in relations, particularly since Ms McDonald has become president.

The Mayo TD said that the relations between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin are warmer than they have been in a long time: “Jim Daly is close to Leo, no matter what they say.

Jim Daly

"He was the only Cork man to support Leo in the contest. But there is definitely a warmer relationship between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin now than there has been in a long time.”

Mr Calleary also ruled out any review of the confidence and supply agreement before the budget, saying that the review of it can only happen once the third budget is passed.

He also ruled out any suggestion of an early election before the budget.

“We have a review clause in November but the budget will determine the tone of that review,” he said.

“The agreement is clear, we will do the three budgets and do the budget after that.

"In all honesty, it is the only way to do the review because you have to deal with it in its totality rather than predicting what might come,” Mr Calleary added.

Asked about his own position he said that while he is now the party’s policy director, he will not have a frontline role in negotiations with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe as he did last year, when he was public expenditure spokesman.

But he did say he will play a full role in the negotiations within the party: “I am not sure I will be in the mainline discussions as I was previously, but I will be centrally involved in the development in policy discussions behind the scenes.

He said that he and his party colleagues haven’t yet spoken among themselves about just how he will operate but he intends sitting down with Barry Cowen next week to hand over.

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