LEO VARADKAR has hit out at Sinn Féin in the wake of the Brian Stanley controversy.
The Fine Gael leader accused Mary Lou McDonald and her party of hypocrisy and claimed that they harboured a "culture of intimidation and bullying".
Over the last couple of weeks, a number of social media posts from senior Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley have emerged.
In one, he appeared to make light of an IRA attack which resulted in the deaths of 18 British soldiers, and in another, posted back in 2017, he appeared to make a 'homophobic' comment about Mr Varadkar.
In the days since, McDonald has come out to defend Mr Stanley, arguing that his tweets were "taken out of context".
Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland on Wednesday, Varadkar said he was "looking forward" to hearing Stanley's "explanation" for his tweets in the Dáil next Tuesday.
He also criticised the way in which a Sinn Féin party member reportedly travelled to a young woman's house after she publicly criticised Mr Stanley's remarks.
"The fact that Mary Lou McDonald has tried to explain all this stuff away and play it down sounds out the wrong message," the Tánaiste said.
"They need to send out a very clear message. There is a culture in Sinn Féin of bullying and intimidation.
"20 or 30 of their councillors have resigned in the last five or six years.
"You'll have seen the issues in recent days with some of their members - the knock on the door ... In the way they're dealing with this, they send out a message that if you're Sinn Féin supporter and you're gay or a young woman or you're mixed race, you'll be celebrated.
"If you are an opponent of Sinn Féin and you're gay or you're mixed race or you're a young woman, that's fair game.
"You see that in the way they conduct themselves and I have a problem with that."
Varadkar also insisted that Stanley's comments were not the first time that a Sinn Féin member had been racist or homophobic towards him.