FG minister faces backlash over talk of Sinn Féin deal
A Fine Gael minister is facing a backlash after raising the prospect of the party entering government with Sinn Féin.
While Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has spent recent days rejecting UK suggestions he is cosying up to Sinn Féin, one of his ministers has fuelled that theory.
Minister for Older People Jim Daly said he has "no objection" to Mary Lou McDonald's party being part of a government.
"We live in a democracy," the Cork South West TD told 'Hot Press' magazine.
"The will of the people has to be respected. It would be very difficult to agree a programme for government but, look, politics is the art of doing, and who knows."
Last night a spokesperson for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Mr Daly "was not speaking on behalf of the Government".
"It was not an appropriate thing to be said. Thought control is not a policy of the Fine Gael party."
A senior minister also told the Irish Independent they were "fuming" with Mr Daly and "couldn't understand" why he would chose now to make such a statement.
Mr Varadkar has repeatedly ruled out the idea of Fine Gael doing business with Sinn Féin after the next election.
Even in the wake of Ms McDonald's evaluation to leader, the Taoiseach said "they are not fit for office".
He said Sinn Féin needs to "break with the past", particularly in what he said was the "celebration of violence" at "triumphalist" commemoration events.
Sources indicated Mr Daly is likely to be privately reprimanded for straying from the party line.
His intervention comes at a particularly sensitive moment as the UK's Brexit Secretary David Davis earlier this week attempted to blame the lack of a solution to the Border question on the Irish Government.
He said "a strong influence from Sinn Féin" had impacted on the approach being adopted by Mr Varadkar.
And Fianna Fáil is likely to highlight the comments amid renewed speculation about the next general election.
Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Daly admits to getting behind the wheel of a car while over the alcohol limit.
"I wouldn't be proud of my past in that respect. I'm sure, back in the day, in rural Ireland we took chances that were reckless," he said.