Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that Fine Gael will “under no circumstances” enter government with Sinn Fein, as the party is “toxic” and its members “do not respect democracy”.
Speaking to delegates at his party’s annual conference in Wexford on Saturday, he said Sinn Fein does not respect Irish courts, police or any of the four parliaments it is elected to.
They don’t respect our Courts, they don’t respect our Gardaí, they don’t respect any of the four parliaments they are elected to, including the ones they turn up for, they don’t respect our democracy.
Speaking of what he saw as the “toxic” party culture of Sinn Fein, he said: “We see it in the culture of bullying, in the personalised aggression in the Dáil, and on those occasions when the mask slips.
“They don’t respect our Courts, they don’t respect our Gardaí, they don’t respect any of the four parliaments they are elected to, including the ones they turn up for, they don’t respect our democracy.”
“At some point between now and 2021, there will be a General Election. And I can tell you tonight that under no circumstances will Fine Gael enter Government with Sinn Féin.”
However Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald later hit back, branding Mr Varadkar as “completely out of touch with the daily realities facing ordinary people”.
She said: “The Taoiseach has shown through his empty words and mud-slinging tonight just how completely out of touch he is with the daily realities facing ordinary people.
“Leo Varadkar had nothing to say about the cost of living crisis which is crippling families. He had nothing to say about the low wage economy and precarious work which is causing huge levels of stress and insecurity among working people.
“For all his talk of reducing tax, the Taoiseach will shortly impose a carbon tax on families who are already living hand to mouth.
“Who are already struggling to make ends meet. Who are at the mercy of endless expense and a health and housing system in constant crisis.
“The fact is that the Fine Gael government is inherently ineffective and unstable. It is lurching from crisis to crisis and has lost control of budgetary spending as was evident in the National Children’s Hospital debacle.
“The Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil alliance has done nothing but damage and the empty rhetoric from Leo Varadkar tonight shows that we need a new direction and a government that will start delivering for people.”