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'No question mark over Leo Varadkar's leadership,' says Coveney despite disastrous opinion polls

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04/02/2020
The Tánaiste, Simon Coveney and the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, , set out Fine Gael’s economic and tax plans.
Photo Garrett White / Collins Agency

04/02/2020 The Tánaiste, Simon Coveney and the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, , set out Fine Gael’s economic and tax plans. Photo Garrett White / Collins Agency

Collins Dublin, Garrett White

04/02/2020 The Tánaiste, Simon Coveney and the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, , set out Fine Gael’s economic and tax plans. Photo Garrett White / Collins Agency

TÁNAISTE Simon Coveney has said there is “no question mark” over Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s future - despite polls showing the Fine Gael could be on course for its worst-ever election result. 

Mr Coveney was speaking after the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll but Fine Gael on 20pc, in third place behind Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil.

A Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post published at the weekend put the party on 21pc. On these numbers Fine Gael is headed for a worse result than the 2002 general election where it won 23pc of the vote and took just 31 seats triggering the immediate resignation of Michael Noonan as party leader.

“There is no question mark over Leo Varadkar's leadership," Mr Coveney said today.

"We intend on turning things around in the last few days of this campaign and I think that Leo Varadkar is well capable of doing that.”

Mr Coveney, who was beaten by Mr Varadkar to the Fine Gael leadership three years ago, was speaking alongside Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe at a campaign event where they outlined the dangers of voting for Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin in this election.

Mr Coveney launched a major attack on Sinn Féin, and asked whether people wanted Sinn Féin “in London making Ireland's case” and described them as “a member of the communist party” in the European Parliament.

“The brand of politics practiced by Sinn Fein is built on discontent and division - feeding and encouraging undercurrents of anger. There is always a “them” and “us” in Sinn Fein politics. They line up Irish people against other Irish people,” he said.

When challenged on the fact he had worked with and indeed praised Sinn Féin’s work to restore the Stormont institutions, the Tánaiste said Northern Ireland is “an entirely different” political reality to the Republic.

“I don’t Northern Ireland and the approach and politics and parties’ capacity to work together is the same," he said.

He said Sinn Féin in the south is “based on protest, fuelling discontent and driving people apart”.

Mr Donohoe meanwhile launched a broadside at Fianna Fáil’s policies, saying they were “a straight re-run of their greatest flops of the past”.

He cited its SSIA scheme for first-time buyers and its proposal to cut capital gains tax, saying it was a "tax cut for the rich

Online Editors