Republic of Ireland news

Leo Varadkar says Fine Gael leadership ‘not endangered' during zoo visit

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Dominic McGrath, PA

Leo Varadkar has insisted that his Fine Gael leadership is not “endangered”, during an appearance at Dublin Zoo.

The Fine Gael leader has seen his party struggle to retain support from voters in recent months, according to some polls.

But during his visit to Dublin Zoo, he rejected the suggestion that he or his party faced any threat of political extinction.

Sinn Fein remains the most popular party in the Republic of Ireland at 33%, according to a Red C poll published last Sunday.

Fine Gael saw support fall to 19% in the same poll.

However, a Behaviour & Attitudes poll in the middle of last month put his party up four points to 24%.

The Tánaiste was speaking in Dublin Zoo, not far from own local area of Castleknock, as he opened new red panda and snow leopard habitats.

He praised the “role of zoos as positive actors for biodiversity”.

Citing acclaimed naturalist and TV presenter Sir David Attenborough, he warned: “The threats to vulnerable species brought about by habitat loss clearly show the association of climate change and the biodiversity crisis.”

But speaking to reporters afterwards, he rejected the suggestion that his own leadership is “endangered”.

“We had two polls in the last two weeks.

“One had us down one to 19. The other had us up four to 24.

“But it’s often the case the focus is always on the one that has you going down.

“But if there’s one thing I’ve learned after 20 years of politics … opinion polls do not predict the outcome of general elections.”

Mr Varadkar also rejected any suggestion his party was in “panic mode”.

He said that at a recent Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, he was the only person who mentioned polls.

“It is an open forum where our TDs and senators express their ideas and express their concerns and pass on to me and each other, what their constituents are telling them. That’s a good thing because we are a democratic party.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Republic of Ireland news