Fine Gael will not enter government with Sinn Féin under any circumstances, Varadkar says

Taoiseach says SF does not respect courts or gardaí during his party’s national conference

Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael Leo Varadkar TD set out five themes for the party at their annual conference, a strong economy; inclusion; infrastructure projects; a stronger foreign policy, and the environment and climate change. Video: Fine Gael

 

Fine Gael will not enter government with Sinn Féin under any circumstances, the Taoiseach has told hundreds of party delegates.

In a televised address to Fine Gael’s national conference on Saturday night, Leo Varadkar claimed Sinn Féin had no allegiance to the democratic institutions of the State, implying they were not fit for government.

He said the party does not have respect for courts, gardaí or parliaments.

“Sinn Féin is a party with plenty of ideas and policies. Bad ones. Higher taxes, more borrowing, more debt. But the bigger problem I have is that the values of Sinn Féin are toxic.

“They don’t respect our courts, they don’t respect our gardaí, they don’t respect any of the four parliaments they are elected to, including the ones they turn up for, they don’t respect our democracy.

“At some point between now and the summer of next year, there will be a general election. And I can tell you tonight that under no circumstances will Fine Gael enter government with Sinn Féin,” he said.

‘No ideas’

Leo Varadkar also hit out at Fianna Fáil and its leadership, saying that it is a party with “no ideas, no policies, no alternatives”.

“I’m sorry Micheál, but hurling from the ditch isn’t a policy, conspiracy theories don’t constitute analysis, and finger-wagging isn’t a solution,” he said, referring to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Mr Varadkar said his own party was “tried, tested and trusted”.

The Taoiseach reserved his most scathing criticism for Sinn Féin, renewing his attack on it towards the end of his half-hour speech.

“I’ve had enough of Sinn Féin, hard left and populist councillors complaining about the lack of jobs in their locality, about homelessness and housing, only to vote against jobs and housing when given the chance,” he said.

On Brexit, the Taoiseach said that the Irish Government had held its nerve despite many “twists and turns in the Brexit saga”.

“I feel that I have learned something from Brexit, about leadership, and about the things that are necessary for success in politics.”

He also said he has a vision for Ireland after Brexit in relation to the economy and infrastructure.

He pledged in his speech to increase the threshold for the higher income tax rate to €50,000 for a single person, and €100,000 for a working couple.

He set out five themes for his party: a strong economy; inclusion; infrastructure projects; a stronger foreign policy, and the environment and climate change.