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FF will have TDs in all constituencies -- Martin

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin is still insisting that there will be no "Fianna Fail-free constituencies" after the general election.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, he said his party was seeking to get at least one seat in every constituency and two in others.

"We're not conceding anything, it's a couple of days to go to the election," said Mr Martin.

And he denied that Fianna Fail would suffer the fate of the Irish Parliamentary Party, which was wiped out at the 1918 General Election.

"No, I wouldn't think so. The two situations aren't comparable," he said. "Having travelled the country, there's a strong support structure across the country," he said.

Mr Martin admitted there would be far less "core loyalty" for all political parties in the future, including Fianna Fail.

"People are going to change from election to election in quite substantial numbers. Fine Gael had their nadir in 2002; they went so low, there was only one way to come -- back up. I'm very confident we have the capacity to rebound," he said.

Mr Martin ruled out asking Fianna Fail voters to give their transfers to any named party -- including his former coalition allies, the Green Party.

"We're not picking any particular party but I think they (the Greens) made an important contribution to the policy of the last Government," he said.

There had been fears that FF candidates could even be physically attacked during the election campaign due to the level of public anger with the party, but Mr Martin said there had been no such incidents.


"Ordinary people will vent their anger and have done so through the media and the airwaves -- and indeed to politicians to their faces," he said.

"That's probably one of the good sides of our democracy -- that people are close to their politicians."

Mr Martin was asked why he had not followed up on his pledge to ask Taoiseach Brian Cowen to go canvassing with him in his Cork South Central constituency after his leadership challenge had failed. But he said he had no idea of what would happen afterwards -- with Mr Cowen subsequently resigning and his victory in the Fianna Fail leadership contest.

"It didn't materialise because things changed again," he said.

Earlier, at his final election news conference in Fianna Fail's Dublin headquarters, Mr Martin denied he had been aggressive during the RTE 'Prime Time' leaders' debate with Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore.

"I think the only issue I was forceful on was the issues. I felt it was important to ask the hard questions of Enda in terms of his plans to cut public expenditure, his health policy and getting 30,000 people out of the public service and not impacting on frontline services," he said.

Mr Martin signalled his intention to rebuild Fianna Fail after the general election by saying he wanted to restore it to its "finest traditions".

He avoided promising to "clean out" some of Fianna Fail's career senators but said the party's representation in the Seanad and the local authorities "had to be addressed".

"We have the opportunity to bring in a lot of young people and women to the fore," he said.

Irish Independent