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Martin vows to back economic recovery plans in opposition

FIANNA Fail will pursue a Tallaght-type strategy in opposition to support policies rather than the political parties that may be in power.

Party leader Micheal Martin last night said his party would support the policies that it believes will restore Ireland to economic prosperity irrespective of which party is in power.

But Mr Martin -- speaking in Mitchelstown on his first trip back to Cork since being elected FF leader -- refused to admit that this meant his party could end up supporting a minority Fine Gael-led administration.

"You can call it what you like but I think it is putting the people first and saying we will support the right policies," he said.

"I am prepared to support policies that are in line with the four-year plan that FF published in Government and now wants to see implemented.

"There are a lot of hypothetical situations that could happen but . . . we will support plans that will get the country back on the road to economic recovery.

"Fine Gael and Labour have said they are going into government (but) from our perspective, it is clear that there is conflict between the two of them in terms of the amount of tax that is levied and where public expenditure is to be (saved).

"There will be a volatile electorate there; I will not get into hypothetical situations about what might arise."

Mr Martin revelled in a hero's welcome as he arrived back to his native Cork city last night, where Fianna Fail officials and supporters gathered in their hundreds at Maryborough House Hotel, in Douglas, for an official tribute dinner.

Such was the determination of the FF faithful to welcome the former Foreign Affairs Minister that the Cork South West selection convention planned for Clonakilty last night was cancelled. It will now be staged tomorrow night in Dunmanway.

However, Mr Martin was determined to ensure his return to Cork was not portrayed as triumphalist in any way.


"This is not a celebration -- we are getting down to hard work straight away. This will be a tough election for the party and we want everyone working to get every vote possible," he said.

Mr Martin made his first stop in Mitchelstown in north Cork at 7pm where he was greeted by retiring Cork East TD Ned O'Keeffe (68) and his son Cllr Kevin O'Keeffe -- who is running for the party in Cork East.

Mr O'Keeffe Snr was one of the earliest and most vocal supporters of Mr Martin's bid to be Fianna Fail leader.

"The party needs to rally around Micheal Martin and ... Fianna Fail needs to get back to its roots," he said last night.

A crowd of almost 100 gathered at Auntie Mae's pub in Mitchelstown to welcome Mr Martin before his cortege swept off to the city.

He was cheered on his arrival in the city -- not least by Fianna Fail TDs.

"This was always going to be a tough campaign ... but there's a sense now that we're going to go out and fight for every single vote," Junior Trade Minister Billy Kelleher said.

Alison O'Connor: Page 24 Diarmaid Ferriter: Page 25 Bruce Arnold

Irish Independent