Elaine Byrne: Coalition’s taunts of ‘populism’ will only hasten Sinn Féin into office

Instead of hurling insults at the opposition, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would do better to work out what they stand for in their remaining time in power

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald: her party’s opposition politics are no different to the campaigns of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour in the past. Picture: Getty

The word populist has become a shorthand insult in Irish politics. A quick look at the Oireachtas archives reveals how its use has increased in Dáil and Seanad debates over the last five years, a time period that coincides with the rise of Sinn Féin.

Here’s a typical example. In January of this year, the Taoiseach said the “left-wing populism” of Mary Lou McDonald’s party would mean “less jobs”. A few days later, the Tánaiste ...