Wednesday 22 January 2020

Fianna Fail leader says he does not trust Sinn Fein in government

Micheal Martin was speaking ahead of an expected general election.

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/Laura Hutton/PA)
Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/Laura Hutton/PA)

By Aoife Moore and Aine McMahon, PA

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said his party will not go into government with Sinn Fein after the upcoming general election and that he does not trust them.

Powersharing has returned to Northern Ireland after Sinn Fein joined the DUP leadership in backing a deal to re-enter devolved government together.

Referencing the book Burned about the botched renewable heating initiative (RHI) that led to the collapse of the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, he said: “I’ve made it very clear.

“I don’t trust Sinn Fein in terms of government and my fundamental concern with the Sinn Fein party as revealed in that book Burned, for example, is that people outside of the elected representatives dictate what transpires,” Mr Martin told RTE radio on Monday.

Mr Martin said, while he welcomed the return of Sinn Fein to the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, he would not like to see Sinn Fein in power in the Republic of Ireland.

“My position on the north is different to the Republic; we’ve had to have a powersharing arrangement in the north to ensure sustainable government – that’s the reality.”

“It is the PSNI and MI5 and others pointed to the continued existence of the army council, not Micheal Martin.

“That is a fundamental issue within Sinn Fein.

“Is its commitment to the wider public or is it to its own agenda and its own internal electoral base?”

“I mean we’ve had no government in Northern Ireland for three years because of Sinn Fein collapsing the executive three years ago.”

Separately, Mr Martin said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had lost three TDs and that he told him he did not think he could rely on Maria Bailey’s support if the government faces a no-confidence motion.

“During my discussions with the Taoiseach last Thursday evening, he said to us that he wasn’t sure of his own party, and members of his own party in terms of the support and he mentioned Maria Bailey for example as a potential person who may not support them.”

The Rural Independent Group has confirmed it has voted to place a motion of no confidence in Health Minister Simon Harris.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath, convener and whip of the Rural Group, confirmed that a majority of the TDs have agreed on the action, however the decision was not unanimous.

Leo Varadkar’s minority Fine Gael-led administration is facing potential defeat in any vote, as confidence and supply partners Fianna Fail says it will continue to abstain on such votes, and a crucial handful of TDs indicating they intend to change how they will vote this time around.

It is widely expected that any defeat in such a vote will lead to a snap election.

Minister Harris is presiding over the worst levels of health care delivery in the history of the state Independent TD Mattie McGrath

“Although I and several members of our Group had already expressed a clear preference for bringing forward this motion; it was only appropriate that the matter be democratically decided by a majority before we made any definitive decision,” Mr McGrath said.

”That majority is now firmly in place.

”The vast majority of the people we have been talking to are demanding political accountability for the chaotic dysfunction that has become increasingly embedded within the health system under this minister’s watch.

“Minister Harris has had time; endless supplies of taxpayers’ money and a seemingly inexhaustible level of tolerance for incompetence from this Taoiseach.

“Minister Harris is presiding over the worst levels of health care delivery in the history of the state.

“This is to say nothing of the spectacular ineptitude, absence of effective governance and skyrocketing costs associated with the National Children’s Hospital.”

The group is confident that the motion will succeed should the Dail proceed into February, when the group plans to table the challenge.

Mr Harris has survived one such no confidence motion before, but has come under sustained pressure over issues regarding hospital overcrowding which hit record highs during the winter months.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has criticised the “hypocrisy” of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, which criticise her party for abstaining from Westminster, but do not think they should be in government in the Republic of Ireland.

“Surely to goodness, if Sinn Fein can govern in partnership with the DUP, with people that we still have profound political differences with, with people who we had to, all of us jointly, reach out and build a collective platform where we could make decisions and show leadership – how on earth is it logical to then say Sinn Fein isn’t good enough to be in government in the south?,” Ms McDonald said on RTE Radio 1.

“The bigger point is this, and the reason why I have been so strong in rejecting an attempt by Martin or Varadkar to set aside Sinn Fein, has less to do with me, or our elected people, and has everything to do with the people that we represent, because in insulting and setting us aside they are, in fact, really taking a very very hostile stance to the hundreds of thousands of people who vote for us, and you’re perfectly entitled to the same representation, and the same opportunity to have their elected representative and their voices heard in decision-making.”

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar said on Sunday that he has made a decision on the date of the country’s general election, amid almost daily speculation from media, but says protocol means he cannot yet announce it.

Mr Varadkar said: “I have made a decision but there is unfinished business to do which I want to get done and also there is some respect and protocol around this and I would like to speak to the Cabinet and to leaders of the opposition.”

He said the Dail would reconvene on Wednesday as scheduled.

PA Media

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News