Government Minister Phil Hogan has claimed that the election of Martin McGuinness as Irish president would appall American multi-nationals and deter foreign investment.
Hogan launched the bitter attack on the Sinn Fein candidate for the Irish presidency in an interview with the Sunday Independent newspaper.
He has gone so far as to claim that a success for McGuinness at the polls would leave Ireland looking like a ‘banana republic.'
Environment Minister Hogan said: “Putting Mr McGuinness in charge of this State would leave us looking like a Banana Republic which could denude Ireland of serious levels of corporate investment within 24 months.”
He then claimed that American investment in Ireland would be seriously damaged by a McGuinness success.
“US multinationals would be appalled at the message this would send,” continued Minister Hogan.
“Our competitors for multi-national investment, who are across the water, would not be slow to start whispering about the terrorist in the Park.
“The United States is understandably hostile to the notion of former terrorists, who were once close to regimes such as Libya, holding the Presidency. Such an outcome could denude Ireland of serious levels of corporate investment within 24 months.
“Electing McGuinness could do irreparable harm to Ireland’s international reputation. We have spent six hard months dragging Ireland’s name out of the gutter.
“The results of this are being seen in our decreasing bond yields, by the real likelihood that at some point in the next three years we will be in Dublin Airport saying goodbye to the Troika.
“But should we elect a President, as ambassador of this State, with a past that is as murky as McGuinness’s, we will undo all that work.”
Unlike his party leader and PM Enda Kenny, Hogan has not been slow to criticize McGuinness and his role as an IRA man in the Troubles.
The Minister added: “We would not be just electing Mr McGuinness as President. We would be legitimizing a lot of very shadowy people hanging around the fringes of Mr McGuinness.
“Could we assume, for example, that close associates of Mr McGuinness such as Mr Slab Murphy would not be invited to special garden parties in the Aras?
(Murphy is a former suspected IRA leader long suspected of fraud on a massive scale)
“A constitutional crisis could arise, should further information in relation to the murky past of Mr McGuinness emerge.
“The absence of an impeachment process within the Irish Constitution means that we could be heading for an unprecedented stand-off - where both Houses would vote ‘no confidence’ in Mr McGuinness but he would refuse to resign.”
Hogan denied his comments were propaganda at a time when Fine Gael’s own candidate Gay Mitchell is struggling in the opinion polls.
He claimed: “This is not a case of the gloves being off or black propaganda. It is, instead, a case of facts being made clear and hard truths being said.”
The Fine Gael Minister then claimed that the election of McGuinness could damage the economic recovery programme currently being pursued by the Irish government.
“Mr McGuinness as President could lead to a series of rows that would distract both the Government and the Presidency from the critical need to act in a coherent, unified way to rebuild a shattered state,” he said.
“We cannot afford to dissipate our energies in a series of futile wars centered on using the Presidency to advance the objectives of a political party rather than the country itself.
“By electing Mr McGuinness, Ireland would be taking a dangerous chance in a scenario where we have six other choices.”
Whilst the Minister did acknowledge McGuinness’s role in the peace process, he felt this should not be a factor in the election.
“This is not the time to take the chance of putting a Sinn Fein President in the Aras. We still have not fully moved on in the manner we need to,” said Hogan.
“There is too much unfinished business surrounding Mr McGuinness. Anything from his past could blow up.
“It is entirely possible new information about the acts of Mr McGuinness could lead to a constitutional crisis where all parties, except Sinn Fein, reach a position where it is not tolerable for Mr McGuinness to represent the Irish people.
“The absence of an impeachment process within the Irish Constitution means we could be heading for an unprecedented stand-off.
“This is a matter of a fundamental philosophical conflict. We are State builders. Sinn Fein, in contrast, up to very recently, have been State wreckers.”