FG TDs accuse FF of attacking ‘potential leader’ Varadkar

Backbenchers claim Fianna Fáil using budget in latest attempt to undermine Minister

 Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar. Mr Varadkar is among the candidates to replace Taoiseach Enda Kenny when he steps down as Fine Gael leader. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar. Mr Varadkar is among the candidates to replace Taoiseach Enda Kenny when he steps down as Fine Gael leader. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

A group of Fine Gael TDs has accused Fianna Fáil of using the budget to attack Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar and undermine him as a potential party leader.

The lead up to tomorrow’s budget has seen haggling between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over welfare payment increases and criticism of Mr Varadkar by Fianna Fáil figures.

Mr Varadkar is among the candidates to replace Taoiseach Enda Kenny when he steps down as Fine Gael leader.

Those who spoke out for Mr Varadkar include TDs Noel Rock, Peter Burke, Alan Farrell and Colm Brophy.

Fianna Fáil spokespeople have accused Mr Varadkar of putting leadership ambitions ahead of other considerations.

‘Scared’

Mr Rock said: “It’s blatantly obvious that Fianna Fáil is scared of the prospect of Fine Gael led by Leo Varadkar.

“They are seeing the same polling as we are seeing, and that polling says that Leo is liked by voters right across the political spectrum and would cause people to take another look at Fine Gael in future elections.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has denied that his party is singling out Mr Varadkar because he is a potential Fine Gael leader.

Negotiations are continuing between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on when to introduce a €5 pension increase and similar increases in payments to carers and those with disabilities.

The Independent Alliance is still in talks over measures for the “most vulnerable”.

Sources said Independent discussions with Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe had moved on to local concerns such as “schools and hospitals”, with Finian McGrath pushing for funding for Beaumont Hospital in his Dublin Bay North constituency.