Tánaiste must stop being ‘populist’ and do job he signed up to do

TD calls for Government to speak as one and stop taking pot shots at each other

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil  there were people who would ‘do their best to stoke up, invent and exaggerate any differences that may occur between different politicians and parties’.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil there were people who would ‘do their best to stoke up, invent and exaggerate any differences that may occur between different politicians and parties’.

 

The Government needs to talk with one voice and the parties must stop “taking pot shots at each other”, the Dáil has been told.

Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue claimed the Coalition is only operating at 50 per cent, and he called on Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to stop being “populist” and to do the job he signed up to.

Speaking during leaders’ questions the Limerick TD compared the Government to a bus speeding down a hill with Taoiseach Micheál Martin at the wheel, the Tánaiste trying to steer it off course and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan asleep in the back.

Mr Varadkar however insisted that the Government “is working as one” since its formation.

Mr O’Donoghue said that all they were hearing was “negative, negative, negative”.

He also accused Sinn Féin of destroying Ireland’s reputation with spin and said the party would highlight “all the negative things because that’s what it does”.

The previous government drove the bus to the top of the hill he said and stopped it on an incline. The new Government was formed and is now driving at 100 mph and coming to a 90-degree bend.

“The public sees now that we’re going downhill at 100 mph with Micheál Martin at the wheel and it see the Tánaiste trying to make the bus skid and Eamon Ryan asleep in the back.”

Calling for Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party to speak with one voice he said they should stop “taking pot shots at each other on the television to be popular”.

Rural pubs

Mr O’Donoghue said Rural Independent TDs has canvassed for rural pubs to open and when the Tánaiste said he thought they should open, his own party Fine Gael did not even know he had said it.

He called on Mr Varadkar to “stop being populist and do the job that he signed up to do”.

The Tánaiste said, however, that he had “no idea what the Deputy means when he says that members of the Government parties have been taking each other apart on television”. He had not witnessed it and would be interested to hear an example.

He said there were people who would “do their best to stoke up, invent and exaggerate any differences that may occur between different politicians and parties”.

Referring to rural pubs he said he told his parliamentary party that he believed they should be allowed to open and they were working on a plan for that and the Taoiseach felt the same.

“I have never suggested that there was a difference between us on that matter because there was not.”

He said people would claim he and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney were “at war over Brexit” when they were asked different questions and give slightly different answers.

“That was always rubbish,” but a “certain element” of that narrative was being promoted.

Mr O’Donoghue said they wanted to “slow this bus down so that we can get around the bend and keep everyone safe”.

The Tánaiste insisted that the public is hearing “one message” from the Government, collectively agreed. Different Government voices went out and defended that message while the Opposition “decided to try to pick holes in and undermine the plan” and undermine the public health message more generally.

The parties in Government “showed absolute unity”.