Sunday 21 January 2018

Stephen Donnelly denies FF move was 'cynical' ploy to get ministry

Stephen Donnelly
Stephen Donnelly
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fianna Fáil’s new recruit Stephen Donnelly has denied that his decision to join the party was a “cynical” ploy to get a ministry in the next government.

The Wicklow TD told reporters this afternoon that the country is facing “very choppy waters” and he wants to be in a position to help deal with that.

He has been appointed the main Opposition party’s lead spokesperson on Brexit.

“I got into politics in 2011 because I was very concerned about the future of the country. And nearly a decade on from the crash Ireland should be in clear blue waters but of course we’re not.

“Various challenges we have going on in Ireland coupled with what is going on in the UK, what’s happening in American, the rise of extremism in Europe mean I’m more concerned about the future of the country now than when I got into politics,” he said.

Mr Donnelly said he had “no regrets” about helping to set up the Social Democrats but he feels it was the correct decision to leave five months ago.

Asked whether his support base in Wicklow backs his decision to join Fianna Fáil, he replied that the “overwhelming” majority did.

The former management consultant said he is “very proud” to be joining Fianna Fáil because he believes they have the “desire” and “ambition” to fix the country.

“I’m not going to retract various statements I made over mistakes made back leading up to the crash.

“What is important is what’s happening to Ireland today. Brexit is happening today. American protectionism is happening today. The rise of extremism in Europe is happening today,” he said.

Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin said he is always “open to new talent”.

“A party has to grow. And you don’t grow if you stay in single seat constituencies with just one seat in each constituency,” he said.

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