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Varadkar accuses Sinn Fein of snubbing talks invite

The Taoiseach said while he would not contemplate entering government with Sinn Fein he had been prepared to meet the party for broader discussions

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (PA)

The Taoiseach has accused Sinn Fein of snubbing his offer for post-election talks.

Leo Varadkar said he had written to the party last week to make the offer, but had received no reply.

The Fine Gael leader made clear his party was still not countenancing entering government with Sinn Fein, but said he had been willing to hold broader discussions with the party on the post-election landscape.

“What I’ve said for the past two or three weeks is that we won’t form a government with Sinn Fein but we’re not refusing to speak to anyone,” Mr Varadkar said after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting in Dublin.

“And we’ve spoken to Sinn Fein on many matters in the past in relation to lots of different issues and do so regularly.

“So we said we are willing to speak to any party but not about the formation of a government. We’re not doing that at the moment. And I wrote to Sinn Fein last week to confirm that applied to them as well. But we’ve had no reply from them.”

General Election Ireland 2020
Mary Lou McDonald is trying to form a left-wing government after a breakthrough election for Sinn Fein (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Varadkar has already held talks with Fianna Fail last week and met the Green Party this week.

He described the exchanges with the Greens as “very positive”.

Efforts to form a government after last month’s inconclusive election result have yet to build up any real momentum.

Sinn Fein is still trying to form a left-leaning government with like-minded parties and independent TDs in the Dail, but will struggle to reach the 80 seats required for a majority.

We've had no reply from themLeo Varadkar claims Sinn Fein has not replied to his offer

Fianna Fail, which like Sinn Fein currently has 37 parliamentary seats, is also trying to form an administration.

While Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin held discussions with Mr Varadkar last week, the Taoiseach has insisted that the prospect of them entering government together was not on the agenda.

The parties are due to meet again on Wednesday for discussions focused on policy issues.

Mr Varadkar has insisted Fine Gael, which has 35 seats, is planning to enter opposition.

The Green Party, which has 12 seats, has held talks with both Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail over the potential of entering government as a junior coalition partner.

Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall, who held talks with Sinn Fein on Tuesday morning, said talks to form a government could extend until Easter.

The Social Democrats last month cancelled a scheduled meeting with Fine Gael, accusing Mr Varadkar’s party of “game playing”.

PA