Varadkar sees potential for Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin sharing power - podcast

Minister says new SF position on coalition is ‘planned’

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar speaking during a live recording of the Inside Politics podcast

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar speaking during a live recording of the Inside Politics podcast

 

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has described an indication by Sinn Féin that it could take part in the next coalition government as a junior partner as significant and planned.

Speaking during an Inside Politics podcast, recorded in front of a live audience in The Irish Times office in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said it “wasn’t said without it being planned”, describing Sinn Féin as disciplined in such matters.

Speaking on The Irish Times Inside Politics podcast on Wednesday, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald raised the prospect that her party could take part in the next coalition government as the junior partner, saying she wants the party to be in power. The move by the Dublin Central TD marks a shift from the previous Sinn Féin position that it would only take office if it was the dominant party.

Reacting to the move on Thursday, Mr Varadkar said: “We are definitely seeing the potential for Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin to form a potential future government and Fine Gael being the natural opposition to that”.

On any future deal between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin he said their policies were “so far apart, that it wouldn’t be possible”.

Inside Politics with Leo Varadkar

“I absolutely do not envisage and wouldn’t seek a mandate” for a deal with Sinn Féin, the minister said.

However, Mr Varadkar did point out the fact that the current Fine Gael-led Government had done a deal with its arch political rival Fianna Fáil as well as a large number of independents, possibly not closing the door completely on a future deal with Ms McDonald and her party.

Speaking earlier in the podcast, Mr Varadkar said Ireland’s relationship with the Trump administration would be more than just “smiles and shamrocks” and Ireland would tackle the issue of human rights when necessary.

He added the Government would “take a dim view” of any attempt “to resile from commitments on climate change” by the new US administration.

On human rights, he added: “We have an obligation to raise those issues”, referring to Mr Trump’s comments about torture on Wednesday. Mr Trump said during an interview he “absolutely” believes torture works and would consider reinstating waterboarding as an interrogating method because “we have to fight fire with fire.”

Mr Varadkar was joined by Theresa Reidy, a political scientist from University College Cork and hosts Hugh Linehan and Pat Leahy of The Irish Times for the Inside Politics special.

Ms Reidy, speaking about the success of President Trump, said there was “gridlock in Washington” and that “people don’t think politics works any more and they were looking for somebody to take decisive action”.

“To some extent he’s delivering for that cohort of people who wanted to see something change”, she said adding that established American institutions may be able to constrain “his most outrageous actions”.