herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Enda can lead Fine Gael 'for as long as he wants' - Leo Varadkar

Varadkar
Varadkar

SINN Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she supports the assessment that the next election will be a toss up between her party and Fine Gael.

The Dublin Central TD was responding to the latest Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll which shows an increase in support for both Fine Gael and Sinn Fein, at the expense of the Independents.

Choices

Ms McDonald said a “stark set of choices” is facing the electorate ahead of the next general election.

“People next time out will either choose the same old same – Fine Gael or Fianna Fail – that kind of politics – or people can opt for a different politics and say, you know what, we want a different kind of government, a different kind of relationship with those people that govern and that’s what Sinn Fein will represent,” she said.

Ms McDonald also strongly defended her party leader Gerry Adams and said there was no question over his leadership.

According to the opinion poll, Sinn Fein is the most popular party having seen its support increase to 26pc. Fine Gael is currently on 25pc, the poll shows, after the party secured a three point rise.

Fianna Fail remained unchanged on 16pc, while Independents saw their support fall by a significant nine points.

Speaking yesterday, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said Enda Kenny will be Fine Gael leader “for as long as he wants to be”.

Mr Varadkar was responding to a separate finding in the poll that 72pc of people believe his decision to come out as a gay man will not damage his chances of becoming Taoiseach.

Asked if he believed the next election will primarily be a battle between Fine Gael and Sinn Fein , Mr Varadkar said nothing can be taken for granted.

“The election is along way away, and a lot can change between now and then. The most recent poll indicates that Fine Gael support is rising again and Sinn Fein is also very strong,” he said. “But I remember six months out from the last general election, the Labour Party was in first place,” he added.

TURNOUT

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Varadkar also said voter turnout will play a key role in the outcome of the upcoming marriage equality referendum in May.

“You can take nothing for granted in referendums. I was director of elections for Fine Gael for the children’s referendum, and that passed by a much narrower majority than we had anticipated.

He also described former Fianna Fail TD Pat Carey, who in recent days announced he is a gay man, as a “gentleman”.

“I’m delighted for Pat. I think he’s really one of politics’ gentlemen. People say that a lot, but it’s really true in his case.

“But the referendum isn’t about any individual, it’s about equality,” he added.

hnews@herald.ie

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