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Monday 21 August 2017

Martin hasn't discarded his ambition to be party leader

Micheal Martin still has ambitions of leading Fianna Fail some day. Photo: Collins
Micheal Martin still has ambitions of leading Fianna Fail some day. Photo: Collins

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Micheal Martin last night said he still wanted to become Fianna Fail leader in the future, despite failing in his bid to oust Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, the former foreign affairs minister said the most important attribute of a leader was to unite a party.

Mr Martin confirmed he still has leadership ambitions whenever a vacancy arises.

"I am realistic enough to say I know the post-election scenario could be a much different scenario and I wasn't doing what I did this week with a view to the post-election scenario. That would be fanciful," he said.

Mr Martin said the personnel in the party would be different after the election.

"Every Dail that comes in is a new Dail and there's a new dynamic," he said.

But the Cork South-Central TD said he was still interested in the job into the future.

"Given that I served in many portfolios, that would be something I would be interested in," he said. Mr Martin added he had no problem with the debate about skipping a generation to pick the next leader, but age was not the only criteria in selecting a leader.

"It's not about the age of a politician that matters or the generation of a politician. I think what matters is the capacity of that politician to unite different generations to develop a new policy route and to have that capacity to dot that and to develop a road for a party. That's what counts at the end of the day," he said.

"Plus it's a personal capacity issue. Age alone is not the determining factor," he added.

Mr Martin accepts he will be best remembered by the public for the smoking ban but is also most proud of his work on special needs education and on research funding in his first portfolio as education minister.

"As a young minister coming into education. I had a whole platform ahead of me in terms of the programme I had in the election and it was a whirlwind two-and-a-half years and we got an awful lot done," he said.

Iconic

Mr Martin accepts the smoking ban is the "iconic" policy the public will associate with him from his time as a minister.

"From the politician's point of view, I would say though that I rank the special-needs initiative up with it and I'd rank the research," he said.

Mr Martin said working on the release of Sharon Commins from her kidnapping in Sudan was "uplifting".

"That was a tremendous experience in working with the public servants across this department, the gardai and the army.

"And we just pulled together quickly as a coherent outfit that worked night day to secure Sharon's release over a three- month period.

"It was the Irish public service at its best," he said.

Following the vote of confidence in the Taoiseach and his subsequent resignation, Mr Martin said he will play a role in Fianna Fail's general election campaign on the policy and candidate promotion front, particularly in Cork.

"I am available to the party is basically what I am saying," he said.

Irish Independent

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