TDs told how to retaliate to claims Fine Gael is cosying up to Sinn Féin
Fine Gael TDs have been briefed on how to retaliate to suggestions the party is cosying up to Sinn Féin ahead of the next general election.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has had to dismiss the idea on a number of occasions in recent days after the parties did a deal on new legislation relating to the vetting of judges.
The move has led to deep discomfort within the party, mainly due to Sinn Féin's track record for criticising the judiciary. Just this week the party's chief whip said some judges in the Special Criminal Court had shown an "anti-Republican bias".
The Irish Independent understands Fine Gael TDs have been advised to totally rule out the possibility of an ongoing political arrangement with Sinn Féin.
They have been told that the current situation is making news because it's so rare for Sinn Féin to back the Government.
Sources noted that there have been 55 Dáil votes since the start of the year.
On 22 occasions Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have voted together, compared with just 10 times when Fine Gael has been backed by Mary Lou McDonald.
Seven of those votes have been in the past week when Sinn Féin supported the Judicial Appointments Bill.
Its safe passage through the Dáil is a red-line issue for Transport Minister Shane Ross if he is to stay in Government.
In return for its backing, Sinn Féin has received the assurance of Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan that he will bring forward sentencing guidelines for judges in the near future.