TAOISEACH Micheál Martin warned that it would be "extremely difficult" for Fianna Fáil to do any type of future Coalition deal with Sinn Féin given what he slated as their anti-enterprise policies and constant negativity towards the EU.
Mr Martin - speaking as US multi-national Stryker unveiled a major new plant in Cork with the potential to create up to 600 new jobs – accused Sinn Féin of being anti-enterprise, reactionary on tax policy and having for years been negative towards the EU.
When asked if he could ever see Fianna Fáil doing business with Sinn Féin, Mr Martin replied: "With extreme difficulty given their policies."
"Enterprise policy is a different issue. I think Sinn Fein’s policies are anti-enterprise and would tax many entities unduly which would create issues for our own indigenous companies, never mind foreign direct investment decisions.
"They opposed going in (to the EU). They opposed every single treaty that related to Europe and I’ve been listening in the Dáil for the last 10 years as leader of Fianna Fáil.
"I have always been struck by – it’s been constantly negative about the European Union, (Sinn Féin) always sought to undermine. Even Russia’s invasion of the Crimea, look at Sinn Féin’s record on that – very, very poor. They were soft on Russia even then."
Mr Martin said Ireland should be very proud of its achievements with foreign direct investment (FDI) - and should never forget what helped get the economy to its current position of strength.
"I think it’s been very strong because of a very strong economic policy and philosophy which has stood this country well now for over 60 years.
"It’s very important we maintain that enterprise eco-system in this country, that pro-enterprise policy.
"We are a small open economy and the twin approach of developing our own indigenous companies and attracting FDI into the country has worked extremely well and the connection between our own indigenous companies and multinationals has worked very well so enterprise matters and enterprise policy matters."
Mr Martin dismissed concerns that some overseas firms were already querying what impact a future Government which involved Sinn Féin might have on national investment and tax policy.
"The fact that they are investing now means they are investing for the long term – many of these investments have long life spans.
"I don’t want to anticipate anything from opinion polls, nor should anybody - I’ve been through too much of that in the past - what I mean is elections take on their own dynamic.
"Enterprise policy will be at the core of the next election campaign, of that I have no doubt – and so will be issues around taxation.
"I think Sinn Fein’s knee-jerk reaction to any problem would be to tax and particularly tax small enterprises in Ireland.
"The small medium enterprises (SMEs) have the most to fear from Sinn Féin policies because there is a reflex reaction to any issue which would be ‘let’s tax them’ more.
"If you are an SME that has been working hard for 10 or 15 years and then you start making money, making over €100,000 or more but you spent 10 years making nothing, in my view, you are entitled to reap the rewards of your hard work the previous 10 or 15 years.
"I think a lot of people in small and medium size enterprises would be hard hit by the policies that Sinn Féin proposes."
The Taoiseach insisted that overseas firms invest in Ireland for the long-haul.
"I think the overseas investment story is very strong and the fact that investments like this are being made means that people have confidence in the pro-enterprise ethos of the country.
"But we have to be careful. We cannot take anything for granted. We cannot be complacent about how we got here. Sometimes I get the sense that we are complacent about the enterprise story and the economy story and we take it for granted."