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Varadkar and McDonald at an event in Belfast last year.
Varadkar and McDonald at an event in Belfast last year.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Fine Gael won't go into government with Sinn Féin despite opinion poll support for the party, says Varadkar

Support for Sinn Féin has risen according to the latest opinion polls.
Jan 26th 2020, 4:41 PM 35,561 197

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has once again ruled out going into government with Sinn Féin despite opinion polls suggesting support has grown for the party. 

Fine Gael has said long-held differences with Mary Lou McDonald’s party prevents it from relying on support in any coalition government.

Varadkar’s party has shown consistently in polls to be falling behind Fianna Fáil, and within the margin of error to be neck-and-neck with Sinn Féin.

Speaking today while canvassing, it was put to Varadkar that his position on Sinn Féin was hypocritical, as he had long criticised the party for not restoring power-sharing in Stormont sooner, and urged them back into government repeatedly in Northern Ireland.

Varadkar in response said that “the north is different”.

“Northern Ireland is a devolved government, it’s not a sovereign state, and in Northern Ireland the Good Friday Agreement provided for what is effectively an all-party coalition,” he said.

“I don’t think people comparing Stormont with a sovereign parliament like the Dáil is an accurate comparison.”

“The reason we have ruled out working with Sinn Fein is a point of principle,” he added.

“Key policy decisions made by Sinn Féin are taken not by elected representatives but an Ard Comhairle, and we just don’t think that’s proper in a democratic society, and we also have a big problem with their stance on the Special Criminal Court.”

Sinn Féin have previously opposed the Special Criminal Court but now say it needs reform.

Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have ruled out working with Sinn Féin, however current numbers in polling show neither could form a government alone, and even with the backing of preferred partners The Green Party and Labour, could still come up short.

According to a Business Post/Red C opinion poll published today, Sinn Féin has seen its support jump by eight points to 19% compared to the last poll carried out by the company on behalf of the Sunday newspaper. 

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Fianna Fáil is up two points to 26%, while Fine Gael has dropped seven points to 23%.

Fine Gael has indicated it would be willing to work with Fianna Fáil, however, leader Micheál Martin has ruled out any such pact, noting that Varadkar and his colleagues have maligned his party both before and during the campaign, and he has no interest in forming a government with them.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the two main parties “don’t want a republican about the place” because it would challenge the status quo.

With reporting from Press Association. 

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Conor McCrave

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