The Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar has reiterated that his party will not form a new government with Sinn Féin.
The Taoiseach said he would be betraying the people that voted for them if they tried to form a coalition with Mary Lou McDonald’s party.
Sinn Féin are leading the way as the 33rd Dáil takes shape, with the majority of elected TDs representing that party.
It comes as Paul Donnelly, a Sinn Féin Dublin West councillor, out-polled Mr Varadkar in his constituency.
Speaking to Newstalk, Mr Varadkar said the parties are too far apart on a range of issues to form a working partnership.
He said: “Nobody can be forced into some sort of forced marriage or forced coalition.
“In order to form a government together, you have to have roughly the same views around the courts and the criminal justice system; around how the economy and society should be run and also how democracy should function.
“That is what makes my party Fine Gael not compatible with Sinn Féin.
“But we are willing to talk to other parties about how we could form a Government.”
The Taoiseach said he made his feelings on working with Sinn Féin clear during the campaign adding that “politicians should say what they mean and mean what they say.”
He said: “We went into this election saying very clearly that we would talk to other parties but we wouldn’t form a coalition with Sinn Féin.
“I can’t now turn around suddenly on election day and perform a U-turn on that."
— Newstalk (@NewstalkFM) February 9, 2020
Mr Varadkar said he expects Fine Gael to win close to 40 seats and said the party won that vote share “on the basis that we would not be forming a coalition with Sinn Féin.”
He also said he does not see the party’s campaign as a failure, noting that he expects them to win as many seats as Sinn Féin or more.
He said: “We have lost seats, but we have a strong mandate and we may well have more seats in the Dáil than Sinn Féin.
“A lot of people did agree with our message and a lot of people didn’t.”
“I would ask the question, what was the alternative? What campaign could we have run alternatively?
“Could we have said Brexit is in the bag; the economy is fine, you don’t need to worry about that anymore and then campaigned solely on housing and health?
“I don’t think that would have worked for us either.”
His comments come after Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin suggested he is ready to change his tune on working with Sinn Féin.
Speaking to reporters in Cork, he said there are “serious policy issues” to be addressed, however, he added that there is “an onus and an obligation on all sides” to form a functioning government.