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Varadkar - Fine Gael will 'do its duty' and lead Opposition if it can't form government

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Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar reacts after the announcement of voting results, at a count centre during Ireland's national election, in Citywest, near Dublin, Ireland, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar reacts after the announcement of voting results, at a count centre during Ireland's national election, in Citywest, near Dublin, Ireland, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Lorraine O'Sullivan

REUTERS

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar reacts after the announcement of voting results, at a count centre during Ireland's national election, in Citywest, near Dublin, Ireland, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Lorraine O'Sullivan

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said Fine Gael will "do its duty" and lead the Opposition if his party can't form a government.

He made the remarks shortly before his election as a TD for Dublin West was confirmed in the constituency's fifth count.

Mr Varadkar said he will talk to other parties including Labour, the Social Democrats, the Green Party and Fianna Fáil to see if there's a possibility of forming a government.

However, he said it should be a government with a working majority and he is prepared to go into Opposition.

Speaking to Sky News he ruled out going into government with Sinn Féin even if it means he will no longer be Taoiseach.

He said: "What matters first and foremost is not me, it’s the country. It’s also the party thereafter.

"If Fine Gael has to do its duty and lead the Opposition we’ll do that.

"And as has always been the case in Irish history if the country needs to turn to a party to pick up the pieces when the experiment goes wrong we’ll be there."

He said in such a scenario he would seek to stay on as Fine Gael leader but added: "That will be a matter for my party.

"I hope they’ll keep me but even if they don’t I’ll stay here and represent the place I grew up, the people who supported me."

Asked if there was anything about the election he would have done differently

he said: "There’s always things you would have done the same and things you would do differently but I think overall we had a good campaign."

Mr Varadkar said his biggest regret was there wasn't more time to show results in housing.

"We have a housing crisis but just in the last few months we’ve started to see house prices level off and the number of people homeless going down and rents falling for the first time in seven years.

"I know from experience that people don’t really feel that or see that in their own lives until its been happening for a year or two and that’s my regret that we didn’t have enough time on issues like housing."

He added: "My concern is that a new government will embark on radical or experimental policies in housing that actually might cause us to go backwards again and that’s a real worry that I have for the Irish people."

He said he would congratulate Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald but not work with the party in a coalition.

Mr Varadkar said: "That’s a decision I think other parties might make.

"For us I meant what I said during the election. We’re a low tax party, they’re a high tax party. We believe in the social market economy, they’re a Marxist party. I just don’t see how we could ever form a coalition."

Mr Varadkar had to wait for the fifth count to get elected in Dublin West where Sinn Féin's Paul Donnelly topped the poll.

Former Labour Tánaiste Joan Burton was eliminated in the same count.

Online Editors


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