Leo Varadkar takes aim at Fianna Fáil in keynote speech

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has hit out at Fianna Fáil, claiming the party has "no ideas, no poli...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.10 24 Mar 2019

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Leo Varadkar takes aim at Fian...

Leo Varadkar takes aim at Fianna Fáil in keynote speech

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.10 24 Mar 2019

Share this article

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has hit out at Fianna Fáil, claiming the party has "no ideas, no policies, no alternatives".

He used a keynote speech at a Fine Gael national conference in Wexford on Saturday to criticise the party in a confidence and supply agreement with his own.

Framing his address as "my vision for Ireland after Brexit", he told delegates: "I feel that I have learned something from Brexit, about leadership, and about the things that are necessary for success in politics.


"Above all, you need the right team. You need the right values. And you need the right policies."

He said: "Of course, none of this would be possible without the Independent Ministers who agreed to serve in Government alongside us. Tonight we salute them for their comradeship.

"Look around at the other parties and ask yourself where the alternative is. Fianna Fáil is a party with no ideas, no policies, no alternatives."

Referring to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Mr Varadkar said: "I'm sorry Micheál, but hurling from the ditch isn't a policy, conspiracy theories don't constitute analysis, and finger wagging isn't a solution."

He then took aim at Sinn Féin: "In contrast, Sinn Féin is a party with plenty of ideas and policies. Bad ones.

"Higher taxes, more borrowing, more debt. But the bigger problem I have is that the values of Sinn Féin are toxic.

"We see it in the culture of bullying, in the personalised aggression in the Dáil, and on those occasions when the mask slips.

"They don't respect our courts, they don't respect our Gardaí, they don't respect any of the four parliaments they are elected to, including the ones they turn up for, they don't respect our democracy.

"At some point between now and the summer of next year, there will be a general election.

"And I can tell you tonight that under no circumstances will Fine Gael enter government with Sinn Féin."


On wider issues, Mr Varadkar said he wanted a strong economy "that rewards work, and backs business."

"I believe we must reduce income taxes further, and reduce the cost of accessing public services as well.

"Over the next five years, we will increase the point at which people pay the higher rate of tax to €50,000 for a single person and €100,000 for a couple", he said.

"A society in which nobody feels left out - fir agus mná, séan agus óg, workers, students and self-employed, rich, poor, people with disabilities, LGBTQ, the new Irish.

"One Ireland in which there are equal opportunities for all and a second chance for everyone who needs one."

"We know, for example, that childcare is expensive for parents and early education gives children the best start."

He continued: "Parents talk to me all the time about it - about how it's like having a second mortgage to pay.

"We've made a good start - two years free pre-school, paid paternity leave, the universal childcare subsidy.

"Now we need to do more - and we are - with the national childcare scheme and paid parental leave coming in later in the year."

"It means also creating a health service to be proud of. Through the Sláintecare implementation plan we will deliver a health service which meets the needs of our citizens."


Mr Varadkar also said he wanted to "develop Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway into cities of real scale" through Project Ireland 2040.

"There are three new hospitals under construction and extensions all over the country.

"The new runway at Dublin Airport is underway, Technological Universities are being established - an ambitious programme of school building in every county, major new road projects in the North-West and here in the South-East, and many more to come", he said.

"Three years ago, only half the country had access to high speed broadband. Today, that figure is three in four.

"The last 25% is the most difficult to do, it involves reaching the most isolated areas, and the private sector won't do it. So Government has to step in", he added.


On Britain's exit from the European Union, he said: "Brexit will define and consume the United Kingdom for the next generation. It doesn't have to define us.

"We are in control of our destiny, and have the power to build a better future for all of our citizens."

"Things are far from perfect, but we are in a much better place than we were, and we can be optimistic about the future.

"Full employment, incomes up, taxes down, emigrants coming home, the public finances back in order, poverty and deprivation falling, and our international reputation restored. Demonstrated by the support we have received in the Brexit negotiations."

Sinn Féin response

Reacting to the speech, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald branded Mr Varadkar as being "completely out of touch with the daily realities facing ordinary people".

She said: "The Taoiseach has shown through his empty words and mud-slinging tonight just how completely out of touch he is with the daily realities facing ordinary people.

"Leo Varadkar had nothing to say about the cost of living crisis which is crippling families.

"He had nothing to say about the low wage economy and precarious work which is causing huge levels of stress and insecurity among working people.

"For all his talk of reducing tax, the Taoiseach will shortly impose a carbon tax on families who are already living hand to mouth."

"The fact is that the Fine Gael government is inherently ineffective and unstable.

"It is lurching from crisis to crisis and has lost control of budgetary spending as was evident in the National Children's Hospital debacle.

"The Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil alliance has done nothing but damage and the empty rhetoric from Leo Varadkar tonight shows that we need a new direction and a government that will start delivering for people."

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Brexit Confidence And Supply Agreement Economy Fianna Fáil Fine Gael National Conference Infrastructure Leo Varadkar Mary Lou McDonald Project Ireland 2040 Speech

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