Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has claimed Sinn Féin’s foreign policy would “turn our friends into enemies” and said the “real danger” it presents is among the reasons he wants a fourth term in Government for Fine Gael.
Mr Varadkar hit out at the main Opposition party during a questions-and-answers session at Fine Gael’s special conference in Maynooth on Saturday.
On the prospect of a Sinn Féin-led government after the next election, he claimed the party had, over 30 years, “made all the wrong calls on all the big questions, and I believe they would do so again”.
He said: “Up until not that long ago, they believed that Ireland could be united by physical force, by violence.
“More than 3,000 people had to die and many more injured before they finally came around to the view that that was not the way to unify our country.”
He also attacked Sinn Féin’s stance on the European Union and the party’s response to the 2008 financial crisis, and said the rival party would raise taxes and would not reward work.
He argued there would be “fewer jobs, less investment, lower incomes and therefore less money for health and housing”.
On Sinn Féin’s foreign policy he said: “They think in their minds that they would get the United States behind a united Ireland.
“They wouldn’t. They would actually turn our friends into enemies.”
Mr Varadkar claimed: “They would fall out with the United States because of their support for dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.”
He criticised Sinn Féin’s stance on Israel and the current conflict in Gaza and argued Ireland would be less central in Europe with Sinn Féin “constantly criticising European institutions and the individuals who are there”.
He said this was “not the way for a small country to play its cards” saying it would “leave us poorer and less safe and that’s a real danger to our country”.
He said it was “something that worries me deeply and really gives me all the more reason for us to want to stay in Government as a part to protect all that we’ve achieved in the past 12 years and to make sure that other people can’t bring us backwards”.
Earlier, when asked about taxes Mr Varadkar outlined how his party has raised the salary threshold where the higher rate of income tax kicks in over a number of budgets.
He said the impact of this is €3,000 per year to somebody earning €40,000 or €6,000 to a couple both earning €40,000.
“The average salary … in Ireland for somebody working full time is €45,000.
“So these are not wealthy people and that was fought tooth and nail by Sinn Féin, by the Social Democrats, by Labour, by a lot of the Independents”.
He added: “If you’re an average couple on the average salary the price of a left-wing Government is €6,000 a year at least.”
He said: “We can make sure that that gap gets wider if we can get a fourth term in government.
“One of the very good reasons why we should – money in your pocket.”