Varadkar backs Kenny's leadership, opposes Fianna Fáil deal

Health Minister says any Fine Gael deal with Fianna Fáil wouldn't be good for the country

Varadkar backs Kenny's leadership, opposes Fianna Fáil deal

Leo Varadkar at the Blanchardstown count centre as votes were counted on Saturday Image: Rolling News

Leo Varadkar has backed Enda Kenny as leader of Fine Gael, while saying everyone in the party has to “accept our share of responsibility for this very disappointing result.”

Fine Gael are currently on course to fall far short of a majority and are performing below poll expectations, perhaps facing losing their position as largest party in the Dáil. With Labour now facing the possibility of falling below seven seats and losing speaking rights in the Dáil, the coalition has suffered a brutal loss of support at the ballot box.

Both parties have also suffered high-profile losses, with former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and Communications Minister Alex White losing their seats.

Leo Varadkar was elected in Dublin West on the second count. After his election the Health Minister told Newstalk that despite the poor performance of his party he was backing Enda Kenny’s leadership of the party and the country.

“The position of the leader is secure,” Mr Varadkar said.

“The leadership of Fine Gael is about more than one person. I’m part of the leadership. All of us have to accept our share of responsibility for this very disappointing result.

“He brought us to our best election results, was a really excellent Taoiseach in the last five years and was really good to me as an individual,” he added.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan also backed Kenny's leadership.

"I think he did a great job. He was an excellent Taoiseach for five years," he said

As the results have rolled in party leaders have reiterated their campaign positions on potential alliances.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams echoed the words of his vice-president Mary Lou McDonald when he ruled out a deal with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, while Micheál Martin said he would not lead Fianna Fail into a deal with either Fine Gael or Sinn Féin.

A Fianna Fail and Fine Gael coalition would not be a “good thing for the country”, Varadkar said.

“I don’t back a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition."

“I don’t think it would be stable and I think it would open to door to a Sinn Féin government in a very short time."

“It’s not clear what government the people do want but I don’t think we should just put together just because the numbers add up – that’s not a mandate,” he added.

Paschal Donohoe, meanwhile, commented on the Enda Kenny's leadership and the possibilities of coalition after he retained his seat in Dublin Central.

He stated: "As the party who is likely to be the largest party in the next Dail, we, of course, have a duty to the Irish people to play a role in putting together a stable government."

He was insistent that Enda Kenny would continue to lead the party: "The questions you are putting to me which I'm happy to answer are ones that are best dealt with in the context of a full Dail."

You can listen to his interview here: