'It's hysterics': Doherty hits out at Varadkar's comments on Sinn Féin rallies

Sinn Féin's lead negotiator Pearse Doherty has called the Taoiseach "hysterical" for his comments about the party's planned political rallies.

'It's hysterics': Doherty hits out at Varadkar's comments on Sinn Féin rallies

Update 2:37: Sinn Féin has dismissed as “hysterics” the criticisms it has received from the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael regarding the public rallies it will hold over the course of the week regarding Government formation.

Speaking at Leinster House this afternoon Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin’s lead negotiator, said that suggestions earlier from the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that his party has a “casual relationship” with democracy and is acting like it got the largest vote amount to “pure hysterics”.

“We did get the largest mandate, but other parties got a mandate also which is why we’re intensifying negotiations with them,” Mr Doherty said.

With regard to the five rallies the party has planned, starting this evening in Rochestown in Cork, he said that Sinn Féin had promised to listen “to the voices of ordinary people in the corridors of power if we got into Government”.

“We very much welcome the huge publicity Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin have given to our public meetings where we will be opening ourselves up to questions from the public,” he said.

“This is about elected representatives going out to meet the people who voted for us and indeed those who didn’t vote for us, and no amount of hysterics from Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin will stop us talking to ordinary people.”

“In any other democracy this would be applauded and welcomed, and Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin fear that, they fear the type of change the public wants,” he said.

Mr Doherty denied that his party would, as the Taoiseach has suggested, take to the streets in protest should it be excluded from Government talks.

“We have no intention of protesting. I have one mandate - to secure a programme for Government for change, that is the only mandate that we have,” he said.

Sinn Féin is today stepping up its negotiations with the Green Party in a bid to reach compromise on a programme for Government. Mr Doherty denied that carbon tax, to which Sinn Féin remains totally opposed and which is fundamental to the Green Party’s approach to reducing emissions, would be a stumbling block in those negotiations.

“We’re opposed to carbon ax as the alternatives are not there and it makes people poorer,” he said.

“What we have in common with the Green Party is the need to take the climate agenda very seriously. They disagree with the type of tax that is in place at present.”

“This is about changing behaviour and making the necessary investment in public transport and retrofitting so that people can make changes if the alternatives are not there.”

He said that the outgoing Government’s targets on climate are “far too low”. “We have a far more ambitious agenda,” he said.

On the subject of a united Ireland, Mr Doherty denied that his party’s rhetoric had ramped up the focus on a unity referendum since the election.

“It was up there in lights in our manifesto as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

I’m a united Irelander, I’m very proud of it as are my colleagues, this is a discussion that is happening both North and South, what’s missing here is a discussion at Government level.

He said that Sinn Féin would be pushing for an all-party committee to look at the preparation required for a referendum on a united Ireland, together with a citizens’ assembly style forum for the public to express its views.

'It's hysterics': Doherty hits out at Varadkar's comments on Sinn Féin rallies

Original reporting by Digital Desk staff

Earlier: Sinn Féin's lead negotiator Pearse Doherty has called the Taoiseach "hysterical" for his comments about the party's planned political rallies.

Sinn Féin will hold public rallies in Cork, Dublin and Newry this week.

Leo Varadkar says they are part of a campaign of intimidation and bullying.

Speaking today, Mr Varadkar said: "It seems that Sinn Féin, having won less than a quarter of the vote, are behaving as though they won a majority.

"I think these rallies are designed to be the next phase in Sinn Féin's campaign of intimidation and bullying.

"It just shows once again that this is not a normal party. This is a party that has a casual relationship with our democracy."

Mr Doherty has the Taoiseach's comments as hysterical.

"It's hysterics to tell you the God's honest truth," said the Donegal TD.

"I've heard some of his comments about intimidation and bullying... These are public meetings.

"This is elected representatives going out to meet people who voted for us and indeed people who didn't vote for us.

"Opening us to questions and letting people know exactly what happens.

"And that the difference between and ourselves other political parties. When the election is over we don't just close the doors."

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