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Micheal Martin insists FF poised to form next Government

FIANNA Fáil leader Micheal Martin insisted his party is poised to form the next Government but warned that negotiations for the support of "like-minded" parties and independents will be strictly policy-based.

While Mr Martin has signalled his intention to talk, post the February 8 General Election, to parties such as the Greens, Labour and Social Democrats, he refused to advise Fianna Fáil voters to transfer to those parties.

"I am never that prescriptive in terms of what people do with their preferences - no, I am saying to people that we obviously want to maximise our seats and to obviously vote Fianna Fáil," he said.

"People should vote in order of their choice after that."

"But in terms of the formation of Government I think people are hearing what I am saying."

"But I don't ever get into a position where I direct people (how to transfer)."

"I think they (Green, Labour and Social Democrats) will do much better than people are expecting - I think part of the narrative of the last weeks perhaps has been trying to write them out of the equation."

"I think they will do reasonably well."

Mr Martin stressed that the issue of pre-Coalition talks was a matter for other parties.

"I am not presupposing or pre-empting anything. For us, the objective is to maximise our seats."

"That puts us in a very strong position after the election in terms of the subsequent talks about the formation of Government."

Mr Martin said that, beyond the Greens, Labour and Social Democrats, the issue of support from "like-minded independents" such as the Healy-Raes or Mattie McGrath would be strictly policy based.

"Our position is that the people are looking towards the political parties to be at the centre of a new Government."

"But the key is the policies and the key is the programme. We will be laying out a programme and we have articulated that in the course of this campaign."

"Obviously, any subsequent talks will be based on a policy platform."

"At the end of the day, it is not about who is in or who is out - it is about dealing with the concerns that are uppermost in people's minds."

"We all heard on the doorstep that the health services is really impacting, the absence of affordable housing and social housing is really impacting on people. Voters want action on those."

"So I think after the election the agenda has to be to find common ground in terms of tackling those urgent issues - we have laid out our programme and it is around that programme that any subsequent talks will develop."

Mr Martin refused to speculate on how many seats Fianna Fáil are posed to gain on February 8.

But he said Fianna Fáil would emerge from the election as Ireland's biggest political party.

"I have never given a specific number - but we had a very good day in 2016 coming from where we were. Obviously we want to increase our number of seats again."

"But I am in no doubt that our team this year and the strength of our candidate tickets around the country is far stronger than it was going into the 2016 election and that gives me confidence and hope."

"But I am not giving any specific figure."

He insisted his party represented the alternative for a change in Government.

"Fianna Fáil has the realistic, do-able programme for a new Government - particularly in terms of urgent action on the health services and housing with the building of new council and affordable homes."

"In terms of climate change, education and children with special needs, we have imaginative, innovative ideas and solutions to that as well."

"All within sustainable financial parameter - and I think it is a do-able programme unlike others which are clearly not deliverable given the lack of any significant financial details in the programmes from other parties."

Online Editors