Irish government minister Leo Vardkar and Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin gave tub-thumping assurances this week that they would not go into government with Sinn Fein after the next election because Sinn Fein is unclean.

It is a ludicrous situation made even more so by the combined history of the two parties they represent.

Fine Gael arose out of an Irish civil war where they carried out numerous atrocities, including tying men to a mine in Ballyseedy, County Kerry and exploding it.

One of their major leaders, Eoin O’Duffy, flirted openly with fascism and created the Blueshirts militia, an Irish version of Hitler’s brown shirts.

Michael Collins, their fearless chieftain, had no problem shooting British army folks in his day and they commemorate him every year as their George Washington.

Fianna Fail in a sense is even more ludicrous. They would figure in any competition for the most corrupt party in Europe given the shenanigans of recent leaders such as Charles Haughey and Bertie Ahern.

They were utterly in the pocket of big bankers and developers leading to the worst financial crisis in the state’s history.

Before that they too came out of a violent past when Ireland was trying to establish itself as a republic.

The only difference between IRA violence in the recent past and that of 90 years ago is one of time. Modern Sinn Fein comes from that very same violent revolutionary tradition, whatever you think of it, and to obfuscate that as both politicians did is just plain dishonest.

It seems it is good enough for northern Unionist leaders, who suffered much of that direct violence, to go into government with Sinn Fein.

Surely that should send a signal to Irish political parties that the past is behind us when it comes to picking political partners.

Afraid not, it looks like. Little wonder Sinn Fein is gaining in popularity in the Irish Republic. The stench of hypocrisy is overpowering.