Saturday 18 January 2020

Martin claims Varadkar will run 'Boris-type election campaign' as he slams 'nasty' tactics

Micheál Martin accused Fine Gael of ‘attack-dog’ approach. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Micheál Martin accused Fine Gael of ‘attack-dog’ approach. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has launched a scathing attack on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who he warned would run a "Boris Johnson- style" campaign in the forthcoming general election.

Mr Martin criticised the Taoiseach for what he called his "attack dog" and "nasty" approach to politics and accused him of "political targeting" of Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers.

He also claimed video footage showing Ms Chambers sitting in her colleague Timmy Dooley's seat while seven votes were cast came from the "bowels of the Fine Gael press office".

"We've seen negative tactics emerge and Fine Gael have said this, they are going to go for Fianna Fáil front-bench people, they are going to go for me, that it's going to be 'attack-dog' approach," Mr Martin said.

He also said the Taoiseach would make unrealistic spending promises during the election campaign, as Mr Johnson did in the UK.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach said he would need assurances from Mr Martin that he has the full support of his own party members before he could agree an election date with the Fianna Fáil leader.

The Taoiseach said he did not want a three- or four-month election campaign and insisted the Dáil should not be wound down in an orderly fashion as Mr Martin has suggested.

The Taoiseach said the precarious nature of the Dáil numbers means Mr Martin would have to confirm to him that his entire party would abstain on motions of no confidence should they be tabled in the new year.

Mr Varadkar said: "I would need the assurance from Micheál Martin that he actually has the support of his party for this.

"If he is going to have dissidents in his party that go against the whip, will he be able to provide people who counterbalance perhaps that by voting with us on motions rather than abstaining," he added.

Mr Varadkar was referring to Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, who recently told the Dáil he would not support a motion of confidence in the Government if one is tabled by the Opposition when the Dáil returns after Christmas.

"I know if I come to an agreement on extending Confidence and Supply through to April or May, I'm confident I will have unanimous support from my parliamentary party for that," he said.

"Given what has been said by John McGuinness, and there may be others, it is reasonable for us to say that we don't know that Fianna Fáil is united behind their leader on this issue and we would need to know that.

"There is no point in coming up to an agreement with Fianna Fáil only to find that there is a breakdown within Fianna Fáil and they can't honour their side of it."

A Fine Gael spokesman responded to Mr Martin saying the “voting irregularities of frontbench Fianna Fáil TDs were exposed by good journalism”.

“It is disappointing that instead of responding to the serious issues raised by the lax voting behaviour of some of his TDs, Micheál Martin is spreading conspiracy theories. As for targeting individuals, Frances Fitzgerald still awaits an apology from Micheál Martin for the events of 2017,” he added.

Irish Independent

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