Mary Lou McDonald has refused to rule out doing a deal with Fine Gael after the next election, saying people’s democratic choices should be respected.
The Sinn Féin leader said it would be a “long shot” for Sinn Féin and Fine Gael to form a government but added that parties should talk to each other after elections.
"I disagree fundamentally with Leo Varadkar on many things, I believe we should protect Irish neutrality. But unlike him, I will respect whatever votes are cast by the Irish people, and I actually believe people should talk to each other."
Ms McDonald added: “You don’t shut down the possibility of respectfully acknowledging somebody’s democratic mandate and talking to them.”
However, she said the “best outcome” would be a new Government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.
Appearing on RTÉ’s, Ms McDonald has said the ongoing Hutch trial is of “considerable concern to all of us”.
Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch is before the Special Criminal Court accused of the murder of David Byrne in the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016. He has pleaded not guilty.
On Friday, Hutch failed in his bid to have the taped recordings of his conversations with former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall in Northern Ireland ruled inadmissible.
This is despite the three-judge court ruling the evidence of these recordings while the pair were in Northern Ireland were unlawfully obtained.
Ms McDonald said she represents a community that has been "devastated" by a drug epidemic and "traumatised" by gangland crime.
"The people that are before the courts, in my view, are people whose criminal thuggery has literally devastated decent, hard-working communities.
"I would hope, and I know anybody who knows me, who knows my track record actually knows how I feel very strongly on these issues."
Given the ongoing case, she said she couldn't comment on specific individuals but said she has "zero tolerance" for "criminality and robbery and anyone who's involved in it".
She said: "I think the whole case is of considerable concern to all of us."
Ms McDonald said she had been left "furious" and "hurt" by a recent book written about her by former Minister Shane Ross, which she described as "despicable".
While she accepts that she is a public figure, who will attract criticism and commentary, she said her family should not be up for discussion.
"I was furious, and I was hurt mainly for my mother," she told host Ryan Tubridy, adding that the book said "more about the author than you learned about the subject".
"I happen to think that our families are not up for grabs."
Turning to the possibility of her becoming Taoiseach after the next general election, Ms McDonald said "you'd be foolhardy not to feel a little bit of pressure" but she said on balance she feels that she has "more a sense of purpose, a sense of excitement" about the potential to lead a government.