Varadkar forced to apologise following Sinn Fein attack
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An apology was issued by the Tánaiste on Wednesday after he falsely claimed that Sinn Féin has no Protestant TDs.
Leo Varadkar said he wanted to retract his comments’ after discovering that Clare TD Violet-Anne Wynne is Protestant.
It followed Ms Wynne accusing him of lying about the religious make-up of her party. His exchange with Ms Wynne came after he said that Sinn Féin was sectarian and an obstacle to a united Ireland.© Provided by Extra.ie Pic: Violet-Anne Wynne/Twitter
The fact that Sinn Féin ‘has no Protestant TDs, MLAs or senators ’ was proof of this, he had claimed. Ms Wynne said in a statement: ‘While nobody in Sinn Féin has ever made an issue of my religious views, it is not acceptable for the Tánaiste to do so. On national radio today, he said there are no Protestant TDs in our party, that is a lie. I am a Protestant and I am proud to be a Sinn Féin TD. The Tánaiste should immediately withdraw and apologise for his hurtful remarks.’
In response, Mr Varadkar admitted defeat and said he didn’t know Ms Wynne was Protestant. ‘I did not make any remarks, at all, about Deputy Wynne personally. I was unaware of her religious affiliation and I stand corrected. I fully retract my remark and apologise for any offence caused,’ he said.
The flare-up came after Mr Varadkar was asked about adverts placed by Friends of Sinn Féin in US newspapers, which called for a referendum on Irish unity. ‘I don’t have any objections to running ads in American newspapers which support reunification – it’s a legitimate aspiration and one that I share and my party shares,’ Mr Varadkar said.© Provided by Extra.ie Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has hinted at when retail click and collect could return as he said that the country was on the ‘right track’ to relax the 5km travel limit. Pic: Maxwells/PA Wire
‘What I do have a problem with is that Sinn Féin is an obstacle to Irish unity. They have a relationship with unionism that is one of mutual hostility, which is a big problem. They’re sectarian, you know, they’re still very anti-British, they have no Protestant TDs, MLAs or senators. And I believe that for a united Ireland to be achieved – and I think it can be achieved in our lifetime – and for it to be a success, we need to talk about unity among people. A bit like Nelson Mandela talked about when he changed with Africa, being a rainbow nation.
‘And that means accepting that there are a million people on the island who are British, that their national identity is as valid as ours and that the flag is orange as well as green, and that’s just not the way Sinn Féin thinks.’
He said unity has to be ‘about building a different state’ and one that respects diversity in a modern Ireland. It’s not about that old-fashioned nationalism that’s very sectarian, very anti-British that Sinn Féin represents and that, of course, puts off the middle ground in Northern Ireland,’ he added.