Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin TD Louise O'Reilly criticises party compared to wolves by Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar said the would rather reintroduce wolves into Ireland than let Sinn Féin into government. Picture by David Young/PA
Aine McMahon

LEO Varadkar was wrong to compare Sinn Féin to wolves, a party TD has said.

The taoiseach said he would sooner bring back wolves than let Sinn Féin into government, in his speech at the Fine Gael presidential dinner on Saturday.

"Decisions are made by those who turn up. Sinn Féin doesn't – either to the House of Commons or Stormont. I'd sooner bring back the wolves than let Sinn Féin into government," he said.

On Tuesday, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan called for the reintroduction of wolves to help rewild the Irish countryside, but it was rejected by Heritage and Culture Minister Josepha Madigan who said the government has no plans to do so.

Mr Varadkar also used his speech to take aim at Fianna Fáil and compared them to predators.

"The leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan, announced his great plan on Twitter to repopulate rural Ireland with wolves. I would have thought the Greens' experience of being in government with Fianna Fáil would have warned them off dangerous predators."

Speaking on RTÉ programme The Week In Politics, Sinn Féin TD Louise O'Reilly criticised Mr Varadkar's comments: "The taoiseach's remarks were quite low. To compare me, my fellow colleagues and comrades in Sinn Féin and our supporters to wild animals.

"I don't think that is a comment worthy of the office of an taoiseach.

"I think that those remarks really trivialise and make light of what is a very serious job. In that regard, I do think it is warranted to compare him with Boris Johnson because that kind of cod acting and play acting and juvenile action should have no place at all," she said.

Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly said Mr Varadkar was wrong to say his party were predatory.

Fianna Fáil are in a confidence and supply arrangement with the Fine Gael Party and have said they will maintain the arrangement to steer the country through Brexit negotiations.

"He has got a whiff of the Boris Johnson about him at the moment," said Mr Donnelly.

"We have the leader of the country not just having a go – which is fine but getting quite personal and quite nasty. That feels to me quite disingenuous when what we need to be doing right now is protecting the country."

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