Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has claimed he would rather resign his membership of Fine Gael than go into coalition with Sinn Fein.
The Fine Gael leader revealed the true extent of his opposition to ever joining forces with Sinn Fein in the 'Two Tribes' podcast. The show is a two-part RTE documentary series on the history and legacy of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, hosted by broadcaster Sean O’Rourke.
In the second part of the series which will be broadcast tonight, Mr Varadkar says: “I’d be totally against it, could not lead my party into a coalition with Sinn Fein.” When pressed, the Taoiseach added: “I would resign as a member.”
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It was put to the newly installed Taoiseach that Fine Gael also had a violent revolutionary past, extending as far back as Michael Collins during the War of Independence. However, the Dublin West TD argued their armed response was different, saying: “He didn’t send out people to blow up chip shops, he didn’t blow up buses and he didn’t blow up shopping centres.”
Meanwhile Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, who also featured in the programme, said the growing attacks from Fine Gael were coming at a time when Sinn Fein continued to grow as a threat to it and Fianna Fail. “As our support has grown and theirs has diminished, their anxiety to cast us in a poor light also increases and that’s the cut and thrust of politics,” she said.
Former Fianna Fail leader and three time Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will also speak on the programme about the rise of Sinn Fein. “I think you have to give Sinn Fein some acknowledgement to the fact that they have changed large proportions of their policies into the mainstream,” he said. “The more Sinn Fein comes into mainstream, I think the more support they will get from a lot of people.”
Current Fianna Fail Senator Lisa Chambers will also contribute to the programme tonight. “A lot of our members can very clearly remember the Troubles and I think would be quite upset actually at the prospect of that” she said. “But I suppose from my own perspective, being honest about it, I don’t think it’s something that we can ultimately rule out.”
The first episode of Two Tribes aired on RTE One last night, the second episode will air tonight at 10:05pm, and both of them will be available on the RTE Player after that. An accompanying 11-part podcast series is available on all main podcast platforms.
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