Leo Varadkar says his days as Taoiseach could be numbered and accuses Sinn Fein of 'fake history'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he expects to be the leader of the opposition in the next Irish parliament.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 1:21 pm

Mr. Varadkar's party Fine Gael lost 12 seats in the general election at the weekend - going from 47 down to 35 seats.

Remarkably, Sinn Fein, increased its number of seats from 22 to 37 and is looking like it could be part of a coalition government.

Fianna Fáil saw its share of seats decrease from 45 to 38 but it's widely anticipated they could enter into a coalition with Sinn Fein.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mr. Varadkar also hinted at the possibility of a second general election but did concede that it was not, in his opinion, in the best interests of the country.

“I think the likelihood is that at the end of this process that I’ll be the leader of the opposition and obviously [if] my new parliamentary party still want me to do that, I will want to do that,” Mr. Varadkar told reporters after addressing the European Financial Forum in Dublin Castle on Wednesday.

“One thing I didn’t have the opportunity to do as Taoiseach was to modernise and reform my party because I was very busy with the work of government and work of state so I relish the opportunity to do that.”

Mr. Varadkar then said it was down to Sinn Fein, which won the popular vote, to "form a government".

Leo Varadkar pictured at the recent funeral of former deputy First Minister, Seamus Mallon. (Photo: Pacemaker)
Leo Varadkar pictured at the recent funeral of former deputy First Minister, Seamus Mallon. (Photo: Pacemaker)

“Sinn Féin have emerged as largest party, at least in terms of votes.

“It is their responsibility now to try and keep those remarkable promises they made to the Irish people which got them so many votes and that means the onus is on them now to form a government, either with left wing parties or with Fianna Fail and to get Dáil approval for a republican socialist programme for government."

Sinn Fein's performance in the 2020 general election took many by surprise however Mr. Varadkar accussed them of pushing a "fake history".

“In terms of what may happen later on in this process, in the next couple of weeks, Fine Gael, my party is the party of the founding of the state," he declared.

"There’s another party that was founded in 1971 called Sinn Féin which has a fake history that says otherwise, but we’re the ones who founded the state, we’re the ones who established institutions, we’re the ones who made this country a republic.

“We will stand by the state and the republic and if we’re needed in order to give the country political stability with governance, well then we’re willing to talk to other parties about that," he said.