FF breaks with past by refusing to contest posts
Published 10/03/2011 | 05:00
FIANNA Fail last night broke with tradition when it did not contest the position of Taoiseach for the first time in its history.
Leader Micheal Martin, whose party returned with just 20 seats, said it was clear that Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny had been given a mandate by the people.
He took the unprecedented step for Fianna Fail of not contesting the positions of Ceann Comhairle, Taoiseach or any of the new cabinet appointments.
Speaking after Mr Kenny's appointment as Taoiseach, Mr Martin said: "We have to change the way we do politics.
"There is no point in doing things for the sake of doing it or indeed just to get attention on the day. It was very clear to us and to people generally that Enda Kenny did receive a mandate in this election."
Fianna Fail, which suffered the worst electoral defeat in its history, now begins a lengthy post-mortem with its councillors, failed candidates, ousted TDs and electoral survivors.
Mr Martin has already met with more than 300 councillors since the election in a bid to get an "immediate sense of the potential of the party".
In opting out of opposition to the cabinet and Taoiseach nominations, Mr Martin stressed that a distinction should be drawn between that and his stance on the Programme for Government.
"Fine Gael and Labour have agreed to share power but have kicked to touch on most of the major issues to be addressed by this Dail. They stood in the election as separate parties and have, at best, only agreed a process for bridging the gaps between them," he said.
Mr Martin claimed that the deal between them was "one of the least specific" programmes ever published.
But given that it was Fianna Fail that signed off on the bailout from the IMF and EU -- which provides the context for the Fine Gael-Labour programme -- he said his party would provide "constructive opposition" in future.
"When we agree with a policy, we will support it. When we do not, we will oppose it and will set out a credible alternative. We will not follow the example seen in recent years of manoeuvring to oppose everything for the sake of popularity," said Mr Martin.