Merkel makes it clear who she wants in Dail
Published 03/04/2007 | 00:11
FF TD brands German Chancellor 'stupid' for backing FG
GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel was last night described as "silly and stupid" by a Fianna Fail TD after she backed Enda Kenny rather than Bertie Ahern to become Taoiseach.
In a letter which was read out at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis, the German leader made it clear that she wanted to see a change of Government in the general election.
"I hope that Fine Gael will be successful and will emerge as the strongest force from the election in May and will take over the responsibility of government."
The letter has infuriated Fianna Fail TDs with Ms Merkel's intervention seen as interference in our democratic process.
It has emerged that Ms Merkel has been a personal friend of Enda Kenny since they met as leaders of their respective parties four years ago.
Both the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Fine Gael are members of the same group in the European Parliament, the European People's Party.
But Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming criticised Ms Merkel for interfering in the elections of a 'sovereign country'.
"The Irish people have a very deep rooted sense of not being told what to do by foreign powers. I hope that if Enda Kenny has any understanding of the Irish people, he will ask her to withdraw that letter."
He added: "What it does show is a massive inferiority complex that a party feels they have to get endorsements from people in other countries."
Fianna Fail TD Martin Brady described the intervention by the German chancellor as "silly and stupid".
"My message for her would be: 'stick to your politics in Germany'. What does she know about the ins and outs of politics here or what's best for the Irish people?"
The party's Galway West TD Jim O'Callaghan also joined in the attack with a statment entitled: 'Back off Frau Merkel'.
"At present unemployment for the dependent German civilian labour force is 11pc. If Frau Merkel wishes to solve this crisis in unemployment in her own country, she should adopt the policies that Fianna Fail has so effectively used in this country to achieve virtual full employment," he said.
The Taoiseach, who sent a personal message of congratulations to Ms Merkel when she was selected to become Germany's first female chancellor in 2005, was staying out of the row last night.
His spokeswoman said that Ms Merkel was entitled to send the letter in her role as leader of the CDU and that German-Irish relations would not be affected.
But she added pointedly: "External endorsements are hardly the way to convince the electorate it's the right party for them."
Fine Gael TD and MEP Simon Coveney, who read out the letter at the Ard Fheis, said he did not know if the party had asked Ms Merkel to supply it.
A spokesman for the German Embassy in Dublin last night said it was "normal procedure" for the leaders of political parties to address or send letters to their sister party at events like the Ard Fheis.
"Either they come personally or have a letter read. It is normal procedure. She was not speaking as German Chancellor but spoke as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union."