Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.53 5 Feb 2020


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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has claimed the "time has come" for Sinn Féin to voice support for the Special Criminal Court if the party wants to participate in government.

It comes after the court became one of the central talking points in last night's leaders' debate.

During the debate, Mary Lou McDonald refused to answer whether she supports the Special Criminal Court.

Without directly answering the question, she said she is 'for the courts' and recognised the need for 'special powers'.

Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show today, Mr Varadkar claimed he brought up the court during the debate because Sinn Féin is “against or at least ambivalent in its support for" the Special Criminal Court.

The Taoiseach suggested the history of Sinn Féin is “exactly the reason” why Ms McDonald avoided answering the question on the Special Criminal Court.

He argued: “I think the time has come for the leader of Sinn Fein - if they've genuinely changed, if they’re genuinely different and if they are fit for government - to disavow that history.

“People were convicted by the Special Criminal Court because they were guilty - they were guilty of killing gardaí, attacks on our defence forces [or] offences against our State.

“Surely if Sinn Féin now wants to participate in government... wants to be ministers around that Cabinet table... it is time for them to say the Special Criminal Court was right to convict those Garda killers.”

Noonan comments

Elsewhere, Mr Varadkar also said he doesn't feel undermined by Michael Noonan backing Paschal Donohoe to be the Fine Gael leader.

Mr Noonan - who is not running for re-election - told Independent.ie's Floating Voter podcast that it's an open secret he wanted Donohoe to replace Enda Kenny.

The intervention comes with Leo Varadkar under pressure as polls ahead of the election show support for the party falling.

The Taoiseach, however, denied that he felt undermined by the intervention - saying Mr Noonan also said on the podcast that Mr Varadkar has been a 'great Taoiseach'.

The Fine Gael leader said: "I can see how people will try to make a bigger story out of it than it is.

"Paschal supported me for leader, and he is my finance minister."


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