Varadkar highly praises Michael Martin as Taoiseach saying “he was a good one” then heavily criticises Sinn Féin – – Our News, Your Views

Varadkar highly praises Michael Martin as Taoiseach saying “he was a good one” then heavily criticises Sinn Féin

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar praised Taoiseach Micheál Martin but quoted Sinn Féin in his speech at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Athlone tonight.

Of the Fianna Fáil leader, Varadkar said Martin was a “good” Taoiseach and Fine Gael thanked him.

To applause from delegates, the Tánaiste said: “Through difficult circumstances, including the later stages of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine he [Mr Martin] has been a voice for decency, kindness and for common sense,” reports RTE.

However, Varadkar chided Sinn Féin for being, what he called, Ireland’s clearest manifestation of rising populism and nationalism around the world.

He said: “All the hallmarks are there – simple solutions to complex problems, elevating anger over facts… conspiracy theories,” reports RTE.

The Tánaiste reiterated his opposition to entering into a coalition with Sinn Féin.

He told delegates: “Coming into this campus today, someone asked me would I ever consider going into coalition with Sinn Féin. I gave them a clear and unambiguous answer from all of us – No… No way… not a chance,” reports RTE.

On justice, Varadkar said Fine Gael was “determined” to ensure criminals were punished.

He said the party would double the maximum sentence for assault causing damage from five to 10 years.

He added that they will also increase the maximum penalty for conspiracy to murder from 10 years to life in prison for hiring those who direct gangland violence.

Varadkar said judges would be allowed to impose minimum rates of life imprisonment for the most serious crimes.

In tax matters, it has once again committed to ensuring that no individual earning less than 50,000 euros pays the maximum rate.

He told delegates: “Next year, a middle-income couple will pay €2,000 less in income tax under Paschal [Donohoe] than they would under Pearse [Doherty of Sinn Féin] – and that’s a fact,” reports RTE.

On climate action, the Tánaiste admitted there was “a long way to go” but he believed progress was being made.

On childcare costs, Varadkar said the government had cut costs by 25% in the budget and will do the same again in the next budget, but added the caveat “if public finances allow.”

As for housing, the Tánaiste said the government needs to “do much more” and “accelerate” its Housing for All plan.

He said 16,000 people bought their first home in the last 12 months and the total was the highest in 15 years.

He added that “even more social housing” needs to be built, arguing that the new supply of social housing will break records this year.

Varadkar told reporters last night that Fine Gael is a party that voters can trust in difficult times, because it has been proven in government.

‘Leadership, stability and vision’ is the slogan used by Fine Gael to describe this year’s Ard Fheis, which takes place at Shannon University of Technology.

It is the first in-person Ard Fheis since 2019, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it comes just weeks before Mr. Varadkar takes on the role of Taoiseach for the second time.

Several motions before the delegates go against existing government policy.

The Galway East Constituency Executive calls for the concrete block tax to be removed immediately as buying a house will be more expensive.

The Ballinasloe branch in Roscommon-Galway demands the reopening of Shannonbridge and Lanesborough power stations.

Speaking ahead of Ard Fheis, Varadkar said Fine Gael would be holding the event in Athlone, partly to show that the Midlands has the lowest unemployment rate of any region in the country and has seen the biggest increase in new jobs on last year.

The Ard Fheis have passed a motion calling for the requirement of a UN mandate to be removed before Irish troops can be sent abroad on missions.

The Dublin Bay South motion, Young Fine Gael Branch had called on the Government to change the ‘triple lockdown’ to a ‘double lockdown’ in which a Cabinet decision and a Dáil vote would allow more than 12 Irish troops to go abroad.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said it would not be a “radical change” for Ireland to remove the requirement for a UN mandate before Irish troops can be sent abroad on missions.

Speaking to Ard Fheis, he said: “I would regard that move as a sensible change – recognising the limitations of the triple lock in terms of the ability of the Irish parliament and the Irish Government to take a decision to be part of a peacekeeping operation,” reports RTE.

He said that the requirement of a UN mandate “… effectively means that a country like Russia can veto what Ireland chooses to do. Is that neutrality?” reports RTE.

Coveney said he believed the triple lock has served Ireland well.

However, he said global politics had changed in the last year and he believed many Irish would be “uncomfortable” that someone making a decision in the Kremlin could override a UN mandate and effectively veto the participation of Ireland. on a United Nations mission.

The minister said the triple lockout was not, therefore, a sea change, but a response to a changing political environment globally where tensions in the UN Security Council mean that obtaining a mandate is “much more difficult, it’s complicated.”

Coveney said the government would not have a “gut reaction” to Russia’s decision to place 52 Irish politicians and officials on a banned list.

The minister said that what Ireland should talk about “is the war proper, and the potential war crimes that are being committed on a daily basis in Ukraine”, reports RTE.

He reiterated his opposition to the expulsion of the Russian ambassador to Ireland. he affirming that “keeping diplomatic channels open, even in circumstances like we are currently experiencing, makes sense”, reports RTE.

On the possibility of Russian embassy officials being expelled from Ireland, he said the matter was under constant review.

Meanwhile, party members voted against a motion in the Ard Fheis calling on the government to send javelin anti-tank weapon systems to Ukraine.

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