By Michelle Devane, PA
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has not ruled out forming a government with Fine Gael after the next general election.
Ms McDonald said it would be a “long shot” for the two parties to form a coalition government but she believed parties should “talk to each other”.
She also said she would “relish” the opportunity to become the country’s first woman Taoiseach.
The Sinn Féin president made the remarks on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show on Friday night.
“I disagree fundamentally with Leo Varadkar on many things. I believe we should protect Irish neutrality,” Ms McDonald said.
“I don’t believe that we should have gotten away with a half a million euro cap for big bankers… Unlike him I will respect whatever votes are cast by the Irish people and I actually believe people should talk to each other.
“I mean it would be a long shot for Sinn Féin and Fine Gael to form a government… what I’m saying is: you don’t shut down the possibility of respectfully acknowledging somebody’s democratic mandate and talking to them.”
She added that the “best outcome” from the next election would be a new government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.
Discussing the prospect of becoming Taoiseach, Ms McDonald told presenter Ryan Tubridy “you’d be foolhardy not to feel a little bit of pressure”.
“We can do so much better than we are doing now,” she said. “And I would relish, Ryan, the opportunity to demonstrate how a woman would be Taoiseach, how a Republican would be a Taoiseach, and how we could lead positively in the time ahead.”
She added: “It’s always going to be a balance of a little bit of trepidation yet you have to have a bit of an adrenaline push, so that you’ll perform and you actually deliver.”
Asked about the Gerry “The Monk” Hutch case that is before the Special Criminal Court in Dublin Ms McDonald said she believes the case is of “considerable concern to all of us”.
The Dublin Central TD said the community she represents is “devastated” by an ongoing drugs epidemic and “traumatised” by gangland violence.
She did not want to jeopardise the case with further commentary.
“I would hope, and I know anybody who knows me, and who knows my track record actually knows how I feel, very strongly on these issues,” Ms McDonald added.
“Obviously, I can’t comment on specific individuals who are before the courts, but be in absolutely no doubt that my position is of zero tolerance for this kind of criminality and thuggery and anybody who’s involved in it”.