Tuesday 25 October 2016

Martin removes 'party politics' from debate 'in the national interest'

Published 27/06/2016 | 02:30

Banging the drum: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin
Banging the drum: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin

Fianna Fáil is offering Taoiseach Enda Kenny every support, "in the national interest", as he takes part in negotiations that will lead to Britain's exit from the European Union.

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The party's leader Micheál Martin says there will be no attempt to undermine the minority Government on European issues at a "critical" time for Ireland.

"I see this as something that's above party politics to be honest. It's not about giving anybody leeway.

"There was engagement and communication this week and I welcome that. I think there will be a free exchange of views and it'll be more in the sense of giving advice, not in any sort of arrogant way.

"Basically giving our take on it, working with the contacts we have in Europe to get the right result for Ireland. That's the approach we'll be taking," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr Martin said Britain was going to have to "swallow hard" in the coming months, but Ireland must ensure it gets a deal with the EU similar to the Norwegian model.

"That's critical in terms of the economic outlook for Ireland," he said.

The Cork TD also called for calm, saying the rush by some people in Europe to push Britain out is not helpful. This echoes similar comments from Mr Kenny and a series of Fine Gael ministers over the weekend.

"That would be a big mistake. Britain itself is digesting the result.

"We have to make sure the Common Travel Area is preserved. This is going to require creativity and imagination."

Mr Martin added that Ireland would have to take a selfish approach.

"It's in our national self-interest that this should be done well. The British market is still very crucial to us. The issue has serious implications for us.

"Recognition has to be given to the unique relationship between Britain and Ireland and the historical factors. That takes in the island of Ireland."

Asked what advice he would give to the Taoiseach ahead of his meeting with 27 other EU leaders, including David Cameron, tomorrow, Mr Martin said Europe had to reflect on the Brexit decision.

"I think one of the most important first steps for European leaders is to develop a programme to dramatically reconnect with people. There has to be a fundamental learning out of this referendum.

"I've been banging this drum since the Lisbon Treaty here in Ireland. It needs to reconnect with its citizens. If I was at that European Council meeting, that's the point I'd be making, because it applies to France and Holland," he said.

Irish Independent

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