The Minister's remarks about the possibility of Fine Gael one day going into coalition with Sinn Féin in our exclusive interview have been described as "inappropriate" by a spokesperson for the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.
In the latest edition of Hot Press, the Cork South West Minister has been causing "ructions", as one Fine Gael member told us, by officially becoming the highest-ranking member of the leading party in the country to publicly acknowledge the possibility of them one day going into coalition with Sinn Féin.
In the past, Enda Kenny was forced to strenuously deny that he would do a deal with Sinn Féin. And a senior political advisor once actually lost his high ranking post after publicly stating it was a possibility So, it's a sensitive subject for Fine Gael.
But Minister Daly's honest and, some would say realistic, comments to a straightforward question has been met with huge backlash from within the Fine Gael parliamentary party.
The interview has been picked up by all the national media outlets who are reporting that a huge number of senior Fine Gael-ers fear the party would end up losing votes if the electorate believes they'd even think about cozying up to Mary Lou and co.
Bit of a kerfuffle over comments by Fine Gael minister Jim Daly to Hot Press magazine: “I have no ideological objection to Sinn Féin being part of a government."— Hugh O'Connell (@oconnellhugh) April 11, 2018
Taoiseach's spokesman says it's "not an appropriate thing to say" and rules out coalition with SF after next election
Running with the headline "FG minister faces backlash over talk of Sinn Féin deal", it's reported in this morning's Irish Independent that "sources indicated Mr Daly is likely to be privately reprimanded for straying from the party line".
“It is important to understand that this is just a small part of a long and wide-ranging interview,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes reflects.
“There is – as we said in the press release which was issued by Hot Press this afternoon – a real honesty and straightforwardness about what Jim Daly has to say throughout that interview.
"He is not in any way trying to be controversial. On the contrary. He is answering questions without putting on any kind of act. What you see is what you get. That may be a rarity in politics. But it is really refreshing."
The Taoiseach says he has full confidence Jim Daly's abilities as a minister https://t.co/UiD22VN0dI— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) April 11, 2018
In the controversial interview with Hot Press senior editor Jason O'Toole, Minister Daly said: "I have no ideological objection to Sinn Féin being part of a government. I just think, on a policy platform, it would be very difficult to agree a programme for government between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin. But, look, politics is the art of doing – and who knows?"
Government spokesman reacts to Fine Gael minister Jim Daly saying in a Hot Press interview that he would be willing to go into government with Sinn Fein." "Minister Daly was not speaking on behalf of the government". Rules out FG-SF because the two are "radically different"— Michael Brennan (@obraonain) April 11, 2018
One high ranking Fine Gael member told Hot Press that their TDs and ministers were shocked by Daly's candid comments. While another Fine Gael member told the Irish Independent that party members are "fuming".
Speaking to the website thejournal.ie, Noel Rock TD said: "Based on the comments I have seen, and I have spoken to him since, I think he is going to have to clarify what he said. He has left people with the impression that Fine Gael are not against going into coalition with Sinn Féin – that isn’t the case."
A government spokesperson last night said, “He certainly was not speaking on behalf of the government or anybody else when he made those comments."
Jim Daly is being upfront and honest. It could happen. Formation of next government will be a numbers’ game, https://t.co/zRYbs6Ek49— Michael O'Regan (@MOReganIT) April 11, 2018
The full interview with Minister Jim Daly is published in the new Hot Press 42-05, with Hudson Taylor on the cover and available below.