Varadkar hits out at SF ‘hypocrisy’ over US corporate donations

Sinn Féin takes donations but ‘doesn’t believe in America’, says minister

The Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar. “Their ambition is that we should raise the minimum industrial wage and then put everyone on it.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar. “Their ambition is that we should raise the minimum industrial wage and then put everyone on it.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has delivered a scathing attack on Sinn Féin “hypocrisy” for accepting donations from the US when it “doesn’t believe in America”.

Mr Varadkar also accused Sinn Féin and others on the left of seeking to force everyone onto the minimum wage and he questioned their commitment to tackling militant Islamic terrorism.

In a speech delivered to a largely Irish-American audience, the Fine Gael minister suggested the US and Ireland now face the challenges of a “pivotal moment” as big as the fall of Communism in the late 1980s.

Without referring to Sinn Féin by name, Mr Varadkar focused his criticism on people and parties in the State who do not believe in personal freedom as the basis for increasing international co-operation.

“There are some parties who are very happy to accept donations from the American business community – and members of the American business community are happy to make those donations,” he said. “But at the same time in Ireland they denounce US corporations and the business community here in Ireland for being part of the same golden circle.”

Votes against action

“It’s a party who – rightly – condemned the 9/11 attack as ethically indefensible terrorism because, presumably, there is ethically defensible terrorism. Indeed the paper of that party only a day later described 9/11 as a disaster for which the West and its client states must bear some responsibility.”

Sunny optimism

“And like so many on the left,” he said, “they don’t believe what Americans naturally believe in, which is that everybody should aspire to achieve great things and that people can be inspired to succeed.

“Their ambition, and the ambition of some people in this country who would replace the Government of which I’m a member, is that we should raise the minimum industrial wage and then put everyone on it.”

A better ambition, Mr Varadkar said, was to enable each person to reach his or her potential and create the opportunities for genuine success.

His speech, delivered to a dinner of the Ireland-US Council in Dublin Castle on Friday, quoted former US president Ronald Reagan approvingly on several occasions.

Mr Varadkar said the former president was right to believe we have the power to “begin the world again”.

“Because with the fall of communism, the world did begin again. And here in 2015, I think we’re facing another pivotal moment.”

The US had the power to defend its vision of liberty and equality across the world by promoting economic freedom to liberate billions from poverty.

While Ireland didn’t have that power, it had the power of moral force, of the kind shown during the recent same-sex marriage referendum.

The Ireland-US Council, founded in 1963, aims to promote business links between the two countries.