Leo Varadkar: 'We'll never apologise for standing up for people who get up early... they deserve a break'
TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has hit back at Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin’s claims that the Fine Gael leader is a right-wing elitist.
In a sign of the deteriorating relationship between the Minority Government partners, Mr Varadkar used his inaugural speech at the Fine Gael presidential dinner as party leader to directly attack Mr Martin.
At the dinner in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin, the Taoiseach said Mr Martin’s party believe people on average and middle incomes are the so called elite.
Mr Varadkar said Fine Gael rejects “such a characterisation” and insisted the party will “never apologise for standing up for people who get up early in morning, who work nights and weekends, who aspire for something better for themselves and their families”.
“It's their taxes that fund public services and keep our welfare system afloat and they deserve a break. And they know which party is on their side,” he added.
The Taoiseach said the Fianna Fail leader was a “formidable politician” who has “seen it all”.
“He became a TD during the Haughey era, he became a Minister during the Ahern era, and he became an expert during the Cowen era. And he's spent the last seven years learning to be the new kid on the block,” Mr Varadkar added.
The Taoiseach also attacked “Labour, Sinn Féin and the miscellaneous”.
In reference to Labour Party TD Alan Kelly’s “cup of coffee budget” comments, Mr Varadkar said: “Some of them have tried to dismiss this budget as only providing a cup of coffee a week for people”.
“I’d advise these latte socialists to think again about where they buy their coffee. Because if you can’t be trusted to spend your own money carefully, how can you be trusted with other people’s?,” he added.
“The more serious point is that these same politicians opposed any reductions in the USC and income tax.
“They seem to want to prevent working people receiving any benefit at all. They don’t believe that working people or the middle class are even worth a cup of coffee.
“Some of them have tried to dismiss this budget as only providing a cup of coffee a week for people.”
Mr Varadkar said the “arc of our aspirations” was evident in the budget which he said “points towards fairness and reward and aspiration”.