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Pearse Doherty: Criticism from other parties about Sinn Féin public rally 'nothing but hysterics'

Leo Varadkar said today the rallies were “an unwelcome development”.

Pearse Doherty speaking to media outside Leinster House today.
Pearse Doherty speaking to media outside Leinster House today.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said Sinn Féin’s plan to hold a series of public rallies is “an unwelcome development”, while Pearse Doherty has said criticism of the rallies is “hysterics”. 

Leader of Sinn Féin’s negotiation team Pearse Doherty said the public meetings across the country are about democracy and meeting voters. 

On Saturday, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald announced the party would host a number of public rallies over the coming weeks to “bring the conversation about a government for change to the people”.  

Leo Varadkar said earlier today: “I think they are an unwelcome development, generally what happens in a democracy is that people vote, the votes are counted and then parties try to form a government.

“What is happening here it seems that Sinn Féin, having won less than a quarter of the vote, are behaving as though as they have won a majority.”

Pearse Doherty said this afternoon: “I think the hysterics from Leo and Micheál [Martin] are nothing but that, it’s hysterics to tell you the truth.” 

Doherty added that he had heard “some of the comments about intimidation” and reiterated that the meetings would be held in public.

“No amount of hysterics from Micheál Martin or Leo Varadkar will stop us talking to our great people who elected us in,” he said. 

Last week, Micheál Martin said his party does not believe “Sinn Féin operates to the same democratic standards held to by every other party”. 

“This is not simply about the past,” he said. “It is about practices which any party which shares government with Sinn Féin must accept as normal.”

Formation talks 

Sinn Féin’s negotiation team met today with the Green Party. 

Doherty rejected the idea that a carbon tax, which Sinn Féin opposes, could be a sticking point with the Green Party in government formation talks. Doherty said the tax “just makes people poorer”. 

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Leader of the Greens Eamon Ryan has previously said carbon tax is ”an important part of the jigsaw” but might not be the biggest stumbling block when it comes to discussions with Sinn Féin. 

Discussions between the Greens and Sinn Féin are set to continue “for a period of time”. 

“We believe there can be significant progress on the core issues that will form a programme for government for change,” said Doherty.  

What we have in common with the Green Party is that we need to take the climate agenda very serious, we need to invest seriously.

Doherty said his party’s talks with other parties and independents are “intensifying this week”.   

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said today that his party’s plan remains for opposition, and not at this stage, forming a coalition government with Fianna Fáil.

“What I would say is that the onus really still falls with Sinn Fein to form a government, they on the left believe they won the election, they have an opportunity to prove that now by forming a government and if they can’t form a government well then they should fess up and say they didn’t actually win the election, and if they had, they disagree with each other so much that they wouldn’t have been able to form a government anyway,” he said. 

With reporting from Dominic McGrath and Press Association. 

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