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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (FG) has not ruled out stepping down as party leader when he is to become Taoiseach in a bid to damage one of Sinn Féin’s unique selling points.

In the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll published earlier this month, Sinn Féin had support of 32 percent making it the most popular party among voters at present. Fine Gael dropped five percentage points to stand at 22% while Fianna Fáil was unchanged on 20%.

Mary Lou McDonald’s (SF) standing with young voters has been a strong selling point for the party with the Dublin woman in the reckoning to become the country’s first female Taoiseach if Sinn Féin were to enter power.

As part of the coalition deal between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, Varadkar is to become Taoiseach in December 2022 succeeding Micheál Martin (FF).

Responding to a query from The Clare Echo on whether he would consider letting one of his Cabinet colleagues such as Minister for Justice Helen McEntee (FG) or Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys take his place in a bid to weaken support for Sinn Féin, he said, “at the moment I’ll focus on the job that I have which is as Tanáiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment which is all about getting businesses open and getting people to work and back to full employment while improving the terms and conditions of work so that is my focus exclusively for the next year and a bit”.

Varadkar was quick to point out that opinion polls always come with a health warning. Opinion polls have yet to predict the outcome of the last election, Sinn Féin won more votes than any other part in the last election but that never showed up in the opinion polls until only a few weeks beforehand, it’s the people who decide who will win the next election not the opinion polls. To form a Government you need fifty percent, even in the best of polls Sinn Féin is well short of that and the Government parties combined are in or around fifty percent, the last election is a long way away and is far from determined”.

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