Pat Leahy: Bitter debate over Varadkar a sign of divided politics to come

Sinn Féin and Fine Gael creating more polarised discourse and boxing out Fianna Fáil

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald during a  leaders’ debate earlier this year. The divide between their parties is now the principal cleavage in Irish politics. Photograph:  Niall Carson/AFP via Getty Images

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald during a leaders’ debate earlier this year. The divide between their parties is now the principal cleavage in Irish politics. Photograph: Niall Carson/AFP via Getty Images

Like everything else, Dáil debates on motions of no confidence are not what they used to be, but this week’s exchanges over the Sinn Féin motion on Leo Varadkar were a signal, amid all the noise, of how Irish politics has changed, and of its future direction.

It’s been remarked upon hereabouts before how the shape of the Irish political landscape has been drastically altered by the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael alliance and the establishment of Sinn Féin as the main Opposition party.

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