The leaders of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have ruled out going into coalition with Sinn Fein, despite a recent poll revealing the party is continuing to perform well.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar accused Fianna Fail of arrogance while naming a number of Fianna Fail candidates he claimed have indicated they would be willing to work with Sinn Fein.
Mr Varadkar said he does not trust Fianna Fail not to go into government with Sinn Fein.
On Saturday, Mr Varadkar posted a video on Twitter saying he asked his Fine Gael team if they would go into government with Mary Lou McDonald’s party.
The 25-second clip show various ministers ruling out the idea of going into coalition with the party.
I will never go into government with Sinn FÃ©in. I asked my team if they would and they answered unequivocally.— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) February 1, 2020
MicheÃ¡l Martin cannot say the same about his front bench. pic.twitter.com/zEoKqpIgQO
Mr Varadkar Tweeted: “I will never go into government with Sinn Fein. I asked my team if they would and they answered unequivocally.
“Micheal Martin cannot say the same about his front bench.”
Mr Varadkar was canvassing in Cork, Kinsale and Ballincollig on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “I don’t trust Fianna Fail because quite a lot of their candidates have said they would be open to going into coalition with Sinn Fein.
“There is a growing list of Fianna Fail people who are gearing up for a coalition with Sinn Fein.
“I think there are elements in Fianna Fail who think this election is in the bag for them, they are probably measuring up curtains, appointing advisers and talking about bringing back garda cars and that’s the kind of arrogance we are seeing from Fianna Fail and I hope they get a surprise next weekend.”
Meanwhile Mr Martin, who was on the campaign trail in Cork on Saturday, was asked about Mr Varadkar naming a number of his candidates who he claimed said they would be open to working with Sinn Fein.
Mr Martin responded: “We can all do that. Regina Doherty, who is a senior minister, made fulsome comments about Sinn Fein. Jim Daly, another minister and Kate O’Connell, a TD, also did.
“TDs in any normal democracy will have views and perspectives but what is absolutely clear is that actions do speak louder than words.
“Before the 2016 election this exact same campaign was launched against me, the same comments by Fine Gael.
“But in the aftermath of the election I stood by my word, and I did what I said I would before the 2016 election. I didn’t talk to Sinn Fein after the election and I think we have a honest disagreement with Sinn Fein about policies.
What is clear is that Fianna Fail is the only party that could lead a change in government with other like-minded parties Micheal Martin
“I believe Sinn Fein policies are very negative.
“I think Fine Gael and others are forgetting that there are other like-minded centre-parties who could do well and that’s where I am looking at in terms of the alternative.
“What is clear is that Fianna Fail is the only party that could lead a change in government with other like-minded parties.
“It should be bout policies and issues and not this relentless negativity that has been the hallmark of Fine Gael’s campaign from the get-go.”
The comments come after a new opinion poll show that Sinn Fein has overtaken Fine Gael, putting Ms McDonald’s party in second place.
The Times Ireland and Panelbase poll shows that Fianna Fail is leading with 23%, followed by Sinn Fein with 21% and Fine Gael on 19%.
It is the first time Sinn Fein is ahead of Fine Gael in a poll for this general election.