Tuesday 19 November 2019

Martin attacks EU for 'lack of vision'

Fianna Fail leader launches broadside against ECB and European leaders

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin is cashing in on growing anti-EU sentiment by questioning the role of the European Central Bank (ECB) and leaders such as Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy.

On the first day of the parliamentary party's think-in in Tallaght, Dublin, yesterday, Mr Martin -- who was foreign affairs minister for almost three years -- said the current euro crisis exposed the "enormous failings" of the ECB.

He also said the crisis extended to "the leadership of the union" and insisted he had highlighted this during his own time in power.

"Of course we questioned it when we were in government," he said.

It comes as Fianna Fail struggles to carve out a distinct identity for itself, with Sinn Fein threatening on its left and Fine Gael and Labour implementing policies broadly in line with the EU-IMF deal negotiated by Fianna Fail.

"We're talking about European political leadership from the onset of the crisis," Mr Martin said, singling out leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

He also claimed "the current leadership at European level doesn't appear to have the same vision of the EU as the founding members had and, indeed, latter-day leaders had as well".

And he criticised the speed at which the EU had implemented the July agreement aimed at settling the Greek crisis, which also led to a reduction in the bailout interest rate for Ireland.

Despite these comments, Mr Martin claimed he was not being eurosceptic and said Fianna Fail was only "deeply concerned about the lack of leadership at EU level".

"Everyone would agree it's been very much a piecemeal approach to the crisis, from the onset of the crisis to the current day," he added.


"The Greek situation is still not clear. In the last year there has been a growing sense, internationally, that Europe has not dealt comprehensively and resolutely with the issue."

He said the Government's contribution to picking a successor to outgoing ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet was "nil".

"There was absolutely no discussion of the ECB, its performance and perhaps how its remit could be broadened with the crisis. There's a lack of conviction from the centre of Europe.

"We have to critically look at the EU's capacity to respond.

"If we don't, I think the European endeavour itself is in difficulty. The public need convincing now about the European ideal."

Irish Independent

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