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Radical reform proposals are all my own ideas, insists FF leader

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin last night insisted he came up with his own ideas for political reform -- and didn't borrow them from businessman Dermot Desmond.

The proposals are curiously similar and call for non-TDs to be appointed to the Cabinet.

The Fianna Fail leader yesterday identified the portfolios of Energy, Communications and Foreign Affairs as examples of posts suitable for outside appointments.

Mr Martin also said he did not dismiss the idea of appointing experts from outside the Dail as ministers, when it was proposed last year.

Mr Desmond drafted his own private document on political reform and many of the same proposals ended up in the Fianna Fail proposals last week. These include:

  • Ministers resigning Dail seats to focus on government work.
  • Unelected people being appointed as ministers.
  • Changes to the electoral system.

Mr Martin said he welcomed the intervention of non-politicians in the debate on political reform. But he said his ideas were his own work.

"We devised our policy documents ourselves here. We designed our radical policy platform. We welcome the fact others are suggesting similar proposals," he said.

Mr Martin also said Fianna Fail had clear policies to help the small and medium-sized business sector.

He promised his party would appoint a junior minister for small business -- even though that role is already in place.

He pointed out that the Budget plan had provided for investments in small start-up firms via Enterprise Ireland's €175m seed and venture capital programme and the €500m innovation fund.

Fine Gael branded Mr Martin's pledge a joke, pointing out that more than 3,000 companies had gone bust since 2009.

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