Wednesday 26 June 2019

FF leader Micheál Martin 'determined' to honour confidence and supply deal

Leader of Fianna Fail, Micheal Martin (Laura Hutton/PA)
Leader of Fianna Fail, Micheal Martin (Laura Hutton/PA) Newsdesk Newsdesk

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said he is "fully determined" to continue honouring the confidence and supply deal between his party and Fine Gael, meaning the possibility of a general election this year is less likely.

Mr Martin told RTÉ's The Week in Politics programme: "We have honoured the agreement up to now, and I'm fully determined that we continue to honour the agreement."

He said that while confidence and supply has worked, there have been some "short-comings."

"In terms of giving a government and a budget, yes. But there have been, admittedly, short-comings, like housing and health."

The Cork TD also said Fianna Fáil would vote in favour of the budget in October and support enabling legislation.

He has called for housing and health to be prioritised "above all else" in the budget.

Meanwhile, when asked about the developments at Independent News & Media (INM) over the last week to ten days, Mr Martin said he was "taken aback".

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) will move an application for the appointment of inspectors to INM on April 16.

The move comes following a year-old long investigation into various corporate governance matters at the company, including a suspected data breach in October 2014.

An affidavit from the Director of Corporate Enforcement includes the allegation that the personal data of 19 people, including journalists, could have been compromised.

"Obviously we will have to await the full publication of the affidavit that the ODCE will be presenting to the High Court," Mr Martin said.

"But, from my perspective, I am watching the developments with profound concern, in terms of what it entails for us as a democracy."

Mr Martin added that "it will have to ultimately involve the political system in making sure that we take decisions that once and for all ringfence the independence of our media, underpin it and make sure it's free from any overbearing influences that can actually act to distort and undermine our democracy".

Former chairman of INM, Leslie Buckley, who stepped down from the role last month, has vowed to defend himself against a range of allegations made by the corporate watchdog.

Mr Buckley said he was "appalled" by what he described as "the widespread circulation and sharing" of the ODCE court document.

He said the affidavit contained "the most serious and damaging of allegations relating to my tenure as chairman of INM plc".

"I will continue to co-operate fully with the ODCE and will robustly defend my position against each and every allegation. I am advised to reserve my position," he said.

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