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Halligan says Varadkar should do deal with Sinn Féin to stay in power



Mr Halligan, who confirmed he is stepping down as a TD for Waterford on Wednesday, said both Mr Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin should be prepared to go into government with Sinn Féin – something they have both repeatedly ruled out – in order to get into power after the general election.

“I was considered to be extreme left-wing at times. I don’t know if I was or not, I came from the Workers’ Party,” Mr Halligan told Independent.ie.

“So if they came to me and brought me into government, I would have had similar policies and ideologies to what Sinn Féin have, Finian McGrath would say the same. So if they were prepared to speak to me, why won’t they speak to Sinn Féin? I think it’s inevitable.”

The Minister of State for Training and Skills said a “substantial amount of people vote” for Sinn Féin and that the party cannot continue to be ignored as an option in a future coalition government.

“We have to forget about what happened in the past, all parties have a history, Fine Gael have a history, Fianna Fáil have a history and I think sooner or later they will have to sit down with Sinn Féin,” he said.

“Don’t be surprised, I would imagine that if they can’t form up with smaller parties they may have to talk to Sinn Féin and I think they should give them credit. There’s some very good people in Sinn Féin, there’s no question about that.”

Mr Halligan is retiring after nearly a decade in the Dáil and two decades as an elected representative in Waterford. He said he was “burnt out”. He turns 65 this month and said he did not relish returning to the Dáil as backbencher after the general election. The outgoing TD also revealed that his wife has been ill in recent years.

“She’s actually in hospital today and I have to take my family first now and I have to put myself first. Quite bluntly, the thought of going up and down to Dublin two or three days a week, in no way was it appetising for me. I didn’t want to do it,” he said.

“I‘d be going back on the backbenches probably having to criticise Fine Gael if they were in government which I wouldn’t be prepared to do. That would make me a hypocrite and the backbenches wasn’t a place for me anymore, I just didn’t want to do it and that’s what decided it.”

Mr Halligan said the disclosure of his retirement by his Independent Alliance colleague Shane Ross was “an error” and that he would still canvass for the Transport Minister in Dublin Rathdown during this election.

He said the Alliance went into government “to bring stability” and admitted he was surprised at how long it had lasted. “I suppose when it started we all kind of thought how long would this last,” he said.

“But I think within a few months we realised that we had a job to do, let’s just get down and do it. I had a job for research and development, school transport and apprenticeships and I just got stuck into it.”

He praised his colleagues Finian McGrath and Shane Ross for their work in Disabilities and Transport respectively. But he said it was “inappropriate” for former alliance colleague, OPW Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, to quit the grouping in advance of the election. “I just think he should have stood with the Alliance and made his decision after the election,” he said.

He said the Taoiseach “was always fair” in his interactions with him. “I didn’t ring him that often but when I did he always spoke to me, made his office open to me, rang me at nighttime on an issue when I needed him, something like that. I think they played fair with us,” he said.

Mr Halligan was full of praise for Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe who sent him a “beautiful text” on Wednesday morning after news of his retirement was confirmed. He said he had not made his mind up about what to do next but had already had a job offer from a company he had worked with while in government.

Online Editors



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