Varadkar, McDonald go head-to-head on tax, water and legacy issues

The two had heated exchanges in relation to Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland

Leo Varadkar, Mary Lou McDonald, Pat Kenny, Newstalk, GE16, debate, Irish Water, Northern Ireland

Leo Varadkar (left) and Mary Lou McDonald (right) | Images: RollingNews.ie

Two general election candidates have gone head-to-head in the final hours of the election campaign.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar and the Sinn Féin deputy president Mary Lou McDonald bouted on everything from legacy issues to Irish Water on the Pat Kenny Show here on Newstalk.

Referring to an anti-water charge protest last weekend, Ms McDonald said: "I was there, I was on the streets and I'll tell you this much: it was a huge, huge number of people".

"I think there's something different going on on the ground, and I think there is an increasing sense of a need for change".

Mr Varadkar replied: "I think those people who turned up at that protest obviously feel strongly about that issue and I've no doubt that the vast majority of them will be supporting Sinn Féin and other left-wing groups - and they probably did last time, too".

On taxes and pensions, Ms McDonald accused Fine Gael of "benefiting the better off" under its plan - which was refuted by Mr Varadkar.

She also accused Mr Varadkar of "makey-uppy, nonsense" over her party's policies.

Mr Varadar also attacked Sinn Féin's record in Northern Ireland, claiming: "The reality is is that Sinn Féin really shows its true colours in Northern Ireland, and that power that they're really seeking to get from Westminster is the power over corporation profit taxes...and you're doing that so you can reduce the profits paid by corporations in order to take jobs from the Republic of Ireland and bring the North".

Mr Varadkar claimed Sinn Féin supporters are "fabulously wealthy, have second homes, who fly business class to Australia" - to which Ms McDonald responded: "Jesus Leo, I knew I was winning the debate - but I didn't think I had you on the ropes to that extent, my goodness".

A holiday home belonging to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in Donegal then came up for debate.

"There's no secrecy, he hasn't hidden the house in Donegal - it's there in plain sight", Ms McDonald.

Mr Varadkar the asked: "How's it all afforded on an average industrial wage? It's a bit like good Republicans like 'Slab' Murphy, and their wealth".

On legacy issues, Ms Mc Donald said: "We know that there are issues arising from the (Northern Ireland) conflict and real hurt to people that need to be dealt with".

"Every party has their past and has their legacy", she added.

Mr Varadkar dismissed this, saying: "Where's my party's legacy of people who were murdered or people who lost their mother, or bodies buried in bogs - or people who are stilling living today who are maimed, who still carry the scars and burns?".

"To hear Sinn Féin claiming credit for peace because they stopped killing people it is just unbelievable", he added.

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