Saturday 18 August 2018

Fine Gael 'taken a leap to the right under Varadkar', Micheál Martin tells Fianna Fail

Micheál Martin TD delivers the keynote address
Micheál Martin TD delivers the keynote address
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The Fine Gael-led government is addicted to spin and has taken a significant leap to the right under Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, according to Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin.

Mr Martin tonight accused Mr Varadkar of embarking of a path that is dividing, rather than uniting, Irish society.

In his leader’s address to the party’s Ard Fheis at the RDS, Mr Martin said the Government has shown “no interest” in tackling the “deep problems” within public services.

And he said that “emergencies” in the areas of housing and health are not being addressed.

“Too little is being done to tackle the growing divide in our society which is leaving so many behind.  Too little urgency is being shown to limiting the damage of Brexit,” Mr Martin said.

“They are in government.  They have in their hands control of the resources and expertise needed to tackle and overcome the many problems made so much worse on their watch. It’s time to stop the spinning and start delivering. And we know what needs to be done,” he added.

Mr Martin yet again attacked Mr Varadkar over his apparent obsession with spin and communications.

“We have a government which is over-spinning and under-delivering in nearly everything. Obsessed with its own image, it is failing to address crisis after crisis caused by its own decisions,” he said.

While admitting that Fianna Fáil didn’t write the Budget, Mr Martin said the party ensured several key measures were included for the benefit of hard working families.

“The Taoiseach himself repeatedly pushed for the core of the budget to be a major tax cut weighted so that the greatest benefit would go to the highest earners. We ensured that every tax payer will benefit from a cut in USC,” the Cork South Central TD said.

“We protected mortgage interest relief – relied on by nearly 400,000 people.

And we secured funding for a number of vital public services.  Funding to cut waiting lists, to expand mental health services, to help children with smaller class sizes, to help more post-graduates get grants, to employ more career guidance counsellors, and to help urban and rural communities under pressure.”

Separately, Mr Martin criticised the ongoing political impasse in the North, which he says is happening “as the Tory civil war continues to make a bad Brexit decision even worse.”

He concluded:

“Fianna Fáil, the Republican Party is absolutely clear where we stand. We will use our mandate to work for the people. To oppose divisive policies, to develop public services, to support our weakest citizens, to empower enterprise, to demand a fairer way forward. To build an Ireland for all.”

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