Sunday 18 February 2018

'It would not be natural if I didn't aspire to be Taoiseach' - Martin

Micheál Martin at Fianna Fáil’s 1916 Commemoration at the Round Room at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photos: Arthur Carron
Micheál Martin at Fianna Fáil’s 1916 Commemoration at the Round Room at the Mansion House, Dublin. Photos: Arthur Carron

Cormac McQuinn and Philip Ryan

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said he aspires to become Taoiseach and his party aims to enter government after the next election.

Meanwhile, Éamon Ó Cuív brushed off suggestions he might like to follow in his grandfather Éamon De Valera's footsteps by becoming President, predicting that Michael D Higgins will be in the role "a long time yet".

They were speaking ahead of Fianna Fáil's National Commemoration Evening in Dublin's Mansion House.

The evening marked both the 1916 Rising and the 90th anniversary of the founding of the party.

Mr Martin was asked about his chances of becoming Taoiseach. "When I got elected first as leader of the Fianna Fáil party, my objective was to restore the party to be a critical force in Irish political life," he told the Irish Independent.

"I think probably faster than people anticipated, we are now a very important force in Irish politics.

Mary Hanafin. Photo: Arthur Carron
Mary Hanafin. Photo: Arthur Carron

"It has never been about me personally but it is about a movement that is 90 years old."

But Mr Martin added: "Of course, it wouldn't be natural if I didn't aspire one day to be Taoiseach of this country to implement the kind of policies that are closest to our heart as a political party."

Mr Martin said for now his focus is on issues like housing and health.

However, he added that "when the next general election comes, we will be competing to go into government".

Brian Cowen. Photo: Arthur Carron
Brian Cowen. Photo: Arthur Carron

Galway West TD Mr Ó Cuív, who was behind Fianna Fáil's 1916 centenary commemorations, said he has "no ambitions" to become President like his grandfather, party founder Mr De Valera.

"I'm doing the job that I've been asked by the leader to do - spokesperson on rural affairs and the Gaelteacht and I'll continue to do that job.

"I think Michel D is going to be there for a long time yet," he added.

The next Presidential election is due in 2018.

Hundreds of Fianna Fáil members, including former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, gathered at Dublin's Mansion House for the party's event last night.

Mr Martin spoke passionately about the Easter Rising and told the crowds that; "The Proclamation remains a noble assertion of national objectives and a challenge to us all."

"Throughout the commemoration, two elements have taken centre stage: our national flag and the Proclamation. A hundred years on, they both still inspire," he said.

"The tricolour is a reminder to us all that the goal of lasting peace between communities on this island is fundamental.

"This is not a country which can ever be defined by a 'winner takes all' mentality."

Irish Independent

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