Leo Varadkar: Sinn Féin's planned public rallies amount to 'intimidation and bullying'
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Leo Varadkar: Sinn Féin's planned public rallies amount to 'intimidation and bullying'

SINN FÉIN'S planned rallies to update supporters on the work to bring about a Government for Change are an 'unwelcome development' according to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Sinn Féin had announced a series of public meetings in Cork, Dublin, Newry, Cavan and Galway from the end of February through to the beginning of March, with plans to announce more in "every area so that everyone has the opportunity to be part of the discussion".

Mr Varadkar, addressing the press a an event in Dublin today, said the rallies are "an unwelcome development" and are "designed to be the next phase in Sinn Féin's campaign of intimidation and bullying".

Saying that the plans are further proof that Sinn Féin is "not a normal party", he went on to say that he "wouldn't be surprised if their next step is to take to the streets".

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Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty, responding to the comments, said he "very much welcome[s] the fact Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin have given huge publicity to our public meetings".

Stating that the rallies are nothing more than public meetings to update supporters on the Programme for Government, Mr Doherty went on to say that "the hysterics from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are just that -- hysterics".

"These are public meetings," he said. "This is elected representatives going out and meeting with people who voted for us, and indeed the people who didn't vote for us, who have questions".

Earlier this week, Minister for Health Simon Harris condemned the planned rallies, saying "did we not have this already - it's called an election."

"Maybe they'd be better spending time trying to actually form their socialist republican government or tell the truth if they can't do so".

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Meanwhile, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said "The election is over. The people Sinn Féin need to speak to are in the Dáil. Not at rallies addressing their own supporters."

Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin later tweeted: "To those criticising SF for holding rallies on [government] formation I have to ask: What is so wrong about including voters in the conversation? Must our engagement with voters stop after polling day?"

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin are expected to meet later this week for 'exploratory talks' on a possible coalition government between the two parties.