stinging attack | 

Leo Varadkar says Sinn Fein would ‘wreck the economy’ and likens them to far-right parties

Mr Varadkar launched a fresh attack on Mary Lou McDonald’s party at the start of the Fine Gael think-in in Kilkenny on Friday

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Picture: PA

Hugh O'

IRELAND would be “out of the tent” and its influence over EU decision-making would be diminished Sinn Féin are in government after the next election, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar launched a fresh attack on Mary Lou McDonald’s party at the start of the Fine Gael think-in in Kilkenny on Friday.

He sought to align Sinn Féin with the far-right government of Viktor Orban in Hungary and a potential far-right government in Italy. He said this would lead to Ireland’s influence in the EU being diminished in the coming years.

Ahead of the resumption of the Dáil next week, Mr Varadkar again insisted that Fine Gael would not facilitate Ms McDonald’s party in government after the next election. “We will not form a coalition with SInn Féin, full stop,” he told reporters.

He said that the Sinn Féin-led government would amount to a far-left eurosceptic party representing Ireland in Europe.

“Bear in mind if Mary Lou became Taoiseach there would only be three potential prime ministers who will be out of the tent of the normal mainstream parties: Viktor Orban in Hungary, potentially Mary Lou McDonald in Ireland, and if it happens the new far-right party prime minister in Italy,” he said.

“It is that serious. Instead of being at the heart of the Europe with a pro-European government, a government that gets invited to the pre-meetings, to the post meetings, is in the tents there when decisions are made, we would have a Eurosceptic government and our influence would be diminished.”

Mr Orban’s Fidesz party were previously members of the European People’s Party, the European grouping of which Fine Gael is a member, but quit last year ahead of its likely expulsion brought about by years of tensions over Hungary’s backsliding on EU democratic and rule of law principles.

Mr Varadkar has also previously had to defend meeting Mr Orban who also took a hardline position on the EU migrant crisis.

Speaking on Friday, Mr Varadkar said that far-right, far-left or populist politics “brings misery everywhere in the world” and that if Sinn Féin came to power it would “wreck our economy, the cake will be smaller for everyone, wealth, jobs and investment would leave the country” and Ireland would no longer be at “the heart of the European Union”.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Picture: PA

Meanwhile, the Fine Gael leader declined to be drawn on recent comments to a private gathering of party members in Cork where he suggested Fianna Fáil could go into government with Sinn Féin.

“I think they might, I think they might not, based on the Taoiseach’s comments, but I can’t speak for him and I won’t speak for him, it’s up to him and other people in Fianna Fáil to answer that question,” he said.

He expressed confidence that Fine Gael could benefit from transfers from Fianna Fáil and the Greens at the next general election to increase its overall number of Dáil seats.

“What generally happens is that when you're in coalition with other parties, when that government ends – provided it doesn't end badly – you do better transfers from your coalition partner.”

He added: “I would hope that the next election comes - transfer pact or not – that Green voters and Fianna Fáil voters will be more likely to transfer to Fine Gael than to Sinn Fein or the far left and vice versa.”

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