Tuesday 26 March 2019

Fianna Fail ready to put pressure on 'arrogant and out-of-touch' Fine Gael after Brexit - Micheal Martin

  • First time party has gathered since Confidence and Supply deal extended
  • Mr Martin rejected idea that decision didn't command majority support
  • Said party will begin ramping up pressure on government after Brexit
  • Ruled out 2019 election
Fianna Fail party leader Micheál Martin TD at the 79th Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, Citywest Hotel, Dublin. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.
Fianna Fail party leader Micheál Martin TD at the 79th Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, Citywest Hotel, Dublin. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

FIANNA Fáil leader Micheál Martin has used his Ard Fhéis address to urge members to row in behind the party’s decision to keep Fine Gael in power in light of Brexit.

Launching a scathing attack on the Government’s record in health, housing and rural development, he signalled that the party is poised to ramp up pressure on Fine Gael once Brexit happens.

The Ard Fhéis is the first time the national organisation has gathered since Mr Martin decided to extend the Confidence and Supply deal underpinning the government due to the uncertainty created by Brexit.

He rejected the idea that that decision did not command majority support or posed a threat to his leadership, saying delegates had a very “nuanced view” of the situation.

“In normal times there would be no question about what should happen to this government, but we have to accept the harsh reality of this very moment,” he said.

“Ireland faces a genuinely historic threat from Brexit and it has to have a government in place if we are to have any chance of limiting its damage.”

Mr Martin said people in the party were keen to start canvassing on doors but that Fianna Fáil was putting the national interest first.

He signalled that as soon as Brexit happens the party will begin ramping up pressure on the government, although he has ruled out a 2019 election.

Mr Martin told delegates: “We have to get through Brexit first.  We have to be able to quickly respond to whatever happens in the coming weeks and months.

“We have to help businesses and communities to limit its damage.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (centre) speaks to the press during his party's annual conference at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (centre) speaks to the press during his party's annual conference at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

“And then we must focus on showing the Irish people that there is an alternative,” he said.

“They don’t have to accept the chronic failure to deliver plans, the rising waiting lists. the scandalous levels of homelessness [and] a government which just doesn’t get it.”

He branded the Fine Gael government “arrogant and out-of-touch”, and focused on the housing crisis, health and issues such as the rural broadband plan pointing the the party’s planned election strategy.

The Cork TD also hit out at Sinn Féin and the DUP’s record in Northern Ireland, telling delegates: “The last seven years have seen a relentless decline in the political situation in Northern Ireland.”

“Everyone knows that the core issue has been with the DUP and Sinn Fein, who ran the Executive like a closed cartel looking after their own,” he said.

“Brexit has been devastating to politics in Northern Ireland, but the problems started long before Brexit, and they still have to be dealt with no matter what happens with Brexit.”

The party recently announced a partnership with the SDLP in Northern Ireland but stopped short of a merger and will not be running candidates in the upcoming election.

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