We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald speaking in the Dáil during Leaders' Questions Oireachtas TV

'Don't limp on': McDonald calls for general election in testy Dáil exchanges with Varadkar

‘The government has now run out of steam and run out of road.”

SINN FEÍN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has said the resignation of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar “can have only one conclusion, the calling of a general election”. 

She added that Varadkar should not “limp on in caretaker capacity”. 

In his statement today announcing he was stepping down as Taoiseach before Fine Gael’s Ard Fheis on 6 April, Varadkar said he has “absolute confidence” in the coalition government. 

However, speaking during at-times testy exchanges in Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, McDonald said Varadkar’s resignation “brings us to a critical moment in Irish politics”.

“It’s clear that it’s time for this entire government to go to allow the people to have their say and the allow the election of a new government,” said McDonald.

“This is a time for change, not just of Taoiseach but of government.

“Fine Gael has been in government for way too long. They have failed on housing, on health, and have failed to tackle the cost of living crisis.

“The government has now run out of steam and run out of road.”

McDonald added that Varadkar should not “limp on in caretaker capacity” but rather “ask for the dissolution of the Dáil” and to go to the people in a general election. 

The Sinn Féin leader added that if Varadkar is confident in the achievements of the coalition government, he should “go to the people and hear what they have to say”.

“Rather than limping on and passing the office of Taoiseach amongst yourselves again, the correct democratic route is to go to the people, put your record before them, and all of us to ask them, in a spirit of humility, who should lead – that is the democratic way to proceed.”

The Journal / YouTube

However, Varadkar claimed that McDonald has “very little humility” and that humility is something she lacks.

He also labelled her a “master of misinformation”.

Varadkar said the Irish Constitution is clear and that it is not unprecedented for the Taoiseach to be elected by their party. 

“There is nothing unusual about this,” said Varadkar. 

“The three party leaders met last night and it is our view that this government must go on.

“This is a Dáil that was elected by the people, a government that was elected by this Dáil in two different formats, and this is a government that has a Programme for Government that will continue.

“Rather than having an early election, we want to focus on the issues that are at hand.”

Meanwhile, Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns said that the “writing is on the wall” for the government and that Varadkar’s decision to step down “doesn’t instil confidence in the government”. 

“Fine Gael’s track record is of record homelessness and another generation forced onto planes,” said Cairns. 

“We need a real change that can only come about in a general election.”

In his response to Cairns, Varadkar said “any government has to be bigger than any one person in it” and added that it may work better under new leadership. 

“For the last couple of years emigration is very much a two-way street, there are as many Irish citizens returning home as there are leaving, that was not the case back in 2011,” said Varadkar. 

“The truth is deputy, we’re never going to wake up in a country that doesn’t have problems or challenges. There will always be a crisis, and if not one, there will be two or three.

“That perfect country that has no problems, it doesn’t exist, it only exists in fairytales, and we should be honest with the public about that.”

Varadkar said housing supply is double what it was when he became Taoiseach, but conceded that he “wishes we could have done more and faster”. 

Cairns then told the Dáil that “it’s not a fairytale to have access to disability services or to be able to own a home.”

“None of these things should be considered fairy tales,” said Cairns. 

“There will be no change in approach to the disastrous policy decisions that have brought people to this point – calling an election now is the only way out of this mess for so many people,” Cairns added. 

Varadkar then responded that he “fears” Cairns is “very much a politician of the social media age”. 

“One of your party’s three principles is that the Social Democrats stand for honest politics – so why was it necessary to misrepresent and twist my words in the way that you did. 

“I said a perfect country in which there are never any problems, that’s the fairytale, you heard what I said.

“Play it back, look in the mirror, and ask yourself whether you engaged in honest politics there or not.”

Varadkar added: “My fear is that you are very much a politician of the social media age. 

“It’s not about truth, it’s about the clip to put online and if that means misinformation or disinformation, well if it gets more clicks and likes, then more of it,” said Varadkar. 

Meanwhile, People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett told the Dáil that the opposition doesn’t believe that “things should be perfect”.

“What we think is that in one of the richest countries in the world, it is shameful that we have the worst homelessness crisis in the history of the State that gets worse week in, week out.”

He added that the government has “lost the confidence of the majority of the people of this country”. 

“We don’t need a shifting of the deckchairs on the Titanic, we don’t need an internal election in Fine Gael, we need the people to decide, we need a general election.”


Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel