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Taoiseach says he'd sooner bring back wolves to Ireland than let Sinn Féin into government

The Taoiseach mentioned Green Party leader Eamon Ryan’s idea of rewilding the countryside with wolves during his speech last night.

The Taoiseach also used the speech to take a pop at the opposition's frontbenches.
The Taoiseach also used the speech to take a pop at the opposition's frontbenches.
Image: Shutterstock/PA

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he would sooner “bring back the wolves than let Sinn Féin into government”. 

Making a speech at the annual Fine Gael presidential dinner last night, Varadkar said:

“During the week, the leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan, announced his great plan on Twitter to repopulate rural Ireland. With wolves. I would have thought the Greens’ experience of being in government with Fianna Fáil would have warned them off dangerous predators.

“Decisions are made by those who turn up. Sinn Féin doesn’t – either to the House of Commons or Stormont. 

“And, I’d sooner bring back the wolves than let Sinn Féin into government,” he said this evening. 

On Tuesday, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan called for the reintroduction of the animal to help rewild part of the countryside, but that idea was rejected by Culture Minister Josepha Madigan who said the government has no plans to do so.

The Taoiseach used his speech as a rallying call to party members, stating that “when the next election comes I believe we can win it.  In fact, I am sure of it even though it may not become apparent until the last week or ten days of the election campaign”.

‘Three in a row’

He said Fine Gael is looking to do “something historic and win three in a row”.

However, he said the “we don’t want to win for the sake of winning”. 

Fine Gael isn’t used to being in this position, said Varadkar, adding that going into a third election with an expectation of winning it is “a little disconcerting for some people” as it has never been done.

“We almost prefer being the underdog. So, we have to change our perspective and our ambitions.

The Taoiseach acknowledged that it has a tough fight on its hands.

“Opinion polls show that we are neck and neck and in the fight of our lives to lead the next Government. I know that we will.”   

Varadkar said his party has the best team, an easy thing to argue in front of your own members, but nonetheless, he used the opportunity to hit out against his opponents. 

If we had a Fianna Fáil-led Government now and they were involved in Brexit negotiations now who could they send who could match Simon Coveney or Helen McEntee?

He criticised the front benches of other parties stating, “the just don’t have the teams to match ours”. 

“For some, they are lining out the same team they had in the 1990s – we refresh and renew,” he said. 

Feeling the need to highlight the difference between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to the room,Varadkar said: 

“Fine Gael stands for something.  You might not always agree with it, but you know what it is… Fianna Fáil stands for everything,” he said, adding that they promise “something to everyone, everywhere, every week”.

Brexit 

On the upcoming Budget, the Taoiseach said the “prudent” thing to do is plan for a no-deal Brexit. 

He said Tuesday’s Budget has to be “different” because of Brexit. 

“So, we will not be able to afford tax and welfare packages on the scale of our last three Budgets. There will, however, be a modest and targeted welfare and a minimal but targeted tax one. 

“However, I don’t want anyone to think for a second that this will be an austerity budget.  Or that there will be cutbacks.  We don’t need to take that journey again,” he said. 

On the issue of Brexit, Varadkar said the government’s position has been clear and consistent. 

We are determined to protect the Good Friday Agreement and peace on our island and we will protect our place in the Single Market, the bedrock of our jobs and prosperity.
We have adopted a twin track approach. First, to get a deal. We want a deal and believe it is possible. And we’ll work to get one until the very last moment, but not at any cost. 

If a deal is not possible, the government are preparing to get the country through the worst of a no-deal, he said.

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