Mary Lou McDonald hits back at Leo Varadkar after Tánaiste branded Sinn Féin 'sectarian'

Mary Lou McDonald hits back at Leo Varadkar after Tánaiste branded Sinn Féin 'sectarian'

MARY Lou McDonald has hit out at Leo Varadkar after the Tánaiste criticised Sinn Féin earlier this week.

Varadkar slammed Sinn Féin following news that the party placed adverts promoting a United Ireland referendum in a number of prominent US newspapers.

He said that McDonald's party was an "obstacle to Irish unity" and branded them "sectarian".

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

But Ms McDonald hit back, after Mr Varadkar apologised for incorrectly claiming that Sinn Féin had no Protestant TDs.

"He apologised because he was wrong and absolutely I accept that and I hope there's no repeat of it," the Sinn Féin president said.

"I hope everybody has heard that the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was wrong, he was wrong on every level, he accepted that he was wrong and he has apologised for that.

"More to the point, whatever about the to-ing and fro-ing of political debate and as was the case yesterday - a very crass attempt at political points scoring - more importantly I hope everyone can accept that people's religious beliefs, are private matters.

"They are not matters for public commentary and it's not about point-scoring or name-calling. I think that is highly inappropriate and I think he accepts that."

While Varadkar retracted his comments about Protestant TDs, he refused to apologise for saying Sinn Féin was getting in the way of Irish unity.

McDonald responded by saying: "I would say that there is no political party here that's represented in the Dáil that has a closer relationship or a better understanding of Ulster unionism than Sinn Féin."