Sinn Féin foreign policy would ‘weaken Ireland’s influence in the world’, says Varadkar

Party’s foreign affairs spokesman Matt Carthy defends its positions, pointing to ‘long-standing international relationships’ in US, EU and further afield

Sinn Féin’s foreign policy would “weaken Ireland’s influence in the world” and damage relations with “lots” of countries, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

He made the remarks after being asked for his view on the consequences of an Irish government following Sinn Féin’s foreign policy.

Speaking to reporters during his visit to South Korea, Mr Varadkar said: “Sinn Féin’s foreign policy would weaken Ireland’s influence in the world.

“I think they would certainly risk falling out with the United States over issues like Cuba, Venezuela, perhaps their stance in the Middle East, would fall out with Spain over their support for separatism there”.


He added that Sinn Féin “have been very critical of the European Union and its institutions, not just historically but also recently.”

Mr Varadkar said: “For a small country that needs to have good relations with the US, with the UK, with the European Union, with other member states, I think it is the case that Sinn Féin would weaken and damage our relations with lots of different other countries and that would have consequences ...

“It would have economic consequences for a start, would reduce our influence in the world, and certainly would do nothing to help people like the Palestinians, for example.”

Sinn Féin’s foreign affairs spokesman Matt Carthy defended his party’s foreign policy.

He said: “For decades Sinn Féin has developed important and long-standing international relationships with successive US administrations and on Capitol Hill.

“Coupled with our work in the EU, Australia and further afield we are proud of our record in building support for the peace process and for Irish interests.”

He added: “We are also very proud of record of international solidarity with South Africans in their struggle against apartheid, our track record on Palestine and supporting those who strive for peace and justice worldwide.”

Mr Carthy also said: “On Cuba, Leo Varadkar may not know this, but this week the UN voted overwhelmingly to end the blockade of Cuba and Ireland supported that vote; so they have adopted the exact same position of Sinn Féin, which makes his comments even more bizarre.”

Earlier, Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley accused Mr Varadkar of using a “quiet news week” in Ireland to “kick-start his operation fear”.

“Sinn Féin is a pragmatic political party,” he told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.

“We’re a party trying to try to create a better society.

“We do not claim to have all the answers.

“We do business with people internationally of all political persuasions.

“We’re grown-ups ...

“Within the last fortnight, [party leader] Mary Lou McDonald was in Portugal meeting political representatives ... despite the fact that we are in opposition ...

“We do that we maintain strong links with governments, regardless of what view they represent.”

Mr Stanley added: “As regards the European Union, we have a very progressive line on that.

“Where we see something needs to be changed we say it we won’t just toe the line like Leo the rest of them.”

Mr Varadkar was also asked about an online event hosted by Sinn Féin in 2020 where a Hamas official was invited to speak.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States.

He said: “I haven’t seen it. So I don’t want to comment on it directly not having done so.

“But I think it’s fair to say that most political parties in Ireland wouldn’t platform terrorist organisations on their social media.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a reporter