Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty has said she could “work with anybody” if she could find similar ground on policy.
Giving her personal opinion, which appears to be at odds with that of her party, Ms Doherty said: “There are some incredible people in Sinn Féin, incredibly smart, articulate, thoughtful and could I work with them? Of course I could yeah.”
Her remarks are likely to spark controversy in Fine Gael as the party has always been adamant that going into government with Sinn Féin is out of the question.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny repeatedly ruled out any deal with Sinn Féin during the election campaign.
Reacting to the comments a Government spokesman said: “The party’s position remains as it was going into the last general election”.
A Sinn Féin spokesman also ruled out any coalition with Fine Gael.
“Before the last election, we made a commitment that we wouldn’t prop up a Fine Gael government and that commitment still stands,” said the spokesman.
Ms Doherty has previously faced criticism over a number of comments since being appointed chief whip.
Just last week Fine Gael junior health minister Helen McEntee described her comments as “utterly inappropriate” after Ms Doherty claimed the constituency colleagues do not get on and that Ms McEntee would “walk past me in the corridor and wouldn’t even blink her eyes”.
In July, she was forced to row back on comments and reiterated her “full support and backing” for the Taoiseach after earlier calling on Mr Kenny to clarify the process for him stepping aside.
Focusing on the future of Sinn Féin, the Meath East TD suggested Gerry Adams was holding growth of the party back.
“If you had a different leader I could see far more centre Ireland moving towards some of their policies,” she said.
“I think that if there was a younger, far less maybe inhibited leader that they would increase in power.