Leo Varadkar calls Sinn Féin 'an obstacle to Irish Unity' and accuses party of being 'sectarian'

Leo Varadkar calls Sinn Féin 'an obstacle to Irish Unity' and accuses party of being 'sectarian'

LEO VARADKAR has lashed out against Sinn Féin, accusing them of being 'sectarian' and an obstacle in the way of Irish unity.

The Tánaiste's comments came following news that Mary Lou McDonald's party had authorised adverts, promoting a United Ireland referendum, in several prominent US newspapers this week.

The ad, which was printed in both the New York Times and the Washington Post on Wednesday, was titled: 'A United Ireland - Let the people have their say'.

It called for the Irish government to "promote and plan for unity" and for the British government to set a date for the vote itself.

"With your support, we can be the first generation of Americans to visit a free and United Ireland," the advert read.

Varadkar said that he had no objection to Sinn Féin running adverts in American papers, but took with issue with their claim of being the party motivated by the notion of unity.

pic: @cliffordcoonan

"[A United Ireland is a] legitimate aspiration, and one I share with my party," Varadkar told RTÉ.

"What I do have a problem with is Sinn Féin is an obstacle to Irish unity.

"They have relationship with Unionism which is one of mutually hostility, which is a big problem, and they are sectarian," Varadkar added, before calling the party "anti-British".

"I believe that for a United Ireland to be achieved, and I think it can be achieved in our lifetime, we need to talk about unity among people.

"That means accepting one million people on the island who are British, that their national identity is as valid as ours and the flag is orange as well as green, and that is not the way Sinn Féin thinks.

"It has to be about reaching out to people and about respecting their national identity and rebuilding a different state. It's not about that old-fashioned nationalism."