SINN FEIN supporters were out in droves in Cork last night to rally public support for the party getting into government.
It's thought that between 800 and 1,000 people attended the meeting at the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork.
It was one of five similar-sized rallies planned over the next fortnight, with further meetings scheduled for Dublin, Galway, Cavan and Newry.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the rally was a way of keeping "a conversation" going with voters, who might be somewhat left in the dark amidst the fallout of an unresolved general election.
"Tonight is very much a conversation. I don’t think it is wise that the election happens, people cast their vote and then the politicians disappear behind high walls and have discussions and leave people out. I think it is healthier to involve people, listen to people, answer their questions and listen to their ideas,” she said.
— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) February 24, 2020
"I’m not going to claim the trademark on public meetings, this is a thing that good political parties do. Certainly for me as the leader of Sinn Fein it is important that we maintain people’s interest in politics, rebuild faith in politics and at the heart of that is listening to what people say."
On Monday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar accused Sinn Fein of "intimidation and bullying" by planning a campaign of rallies, a comment which party leader McDonald described as "ridiculous".
"I think [Varadkar's] comments were completely over the top. It is obvious the political establishment are struggling with the result of the election," she said during the rally.
"I think they are having difficulty coming to terms with it but that is what they must do. For a reasonable, sensible person - the suggestion that holding public meetings is somehow an affront to democracy is ridiculous."
Phenomenal crowd here in the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork to hear from @MaryLouMcDonald @PearseDoherty @davidcullinane & myself & more importantly to tell us what they want from a Govt for change. We are here to listen, learn & put the people at the heart of the Govt negotiations. pic.twitter.com/PxzqEAMD4r
— Eoin Ó Broin (@EOBroin) February 24, 2020
Varadkar said the plans are an "unwelcome development".
"Generally what happens in a democracy is people vote, the votes are counted and then parties try to form a government," he said.
"What’s happening here … it seems that Sinn Fein, having won less than a quarter of the vote, are behaving as if they have won a majority," he added.
"My party regularly won more than a quarter of the vote and didn’t get into government.
"I think these rallies are designed to be the next phase in Sinn Fein’s campaign of intimation and bullying."