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Martin rules out all major parties in future talks about coalition

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Fianna Fail Leader, Micheal Martin pictured with Cllr Sinead Guckian. Photo Brian Farrell

Fianna Fail Leader, Micheal Martin pictured with Cllr Sinead Guckian. Photo Brian Farrell

Brian Farrell

Fianna Fail Leader, Micheal Martin pictured with Cllr Sinead Guckian. Photo Brian Farrell

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin has dismissed the prospect of entering coalition with any of the mainstream political parties - despite revealing his desire to become Taoiseach following the next general election.

Mr Martin said it was "natural" for him to have aspirations to lead the country and said Fianna Fail would now develop a "blueprint" to lay out in front of voters.

But the former minister said he would not lead Fianna Fail into a coalition with either Fine Gael or Sinn Fein and further suggested that the Labour Party would not have enough seats to figure in a coalition.

"I don't know where the Labour Party will be after the next election, genuinely, I have concerns about that," he said.

In response to Mr Martin's remarks, Labour leader and Tanaiste Joan Burton also dismissed the idea of entering a coalition with Fianna Fail.

"Given that we've been kind of dealing with Fianna Fail's legacy of the horrors that the country fell into in their last number of years in office I'm not sure that we'd be rushing to that position," she said.

The issue of future coalitions was discussed as both Labour and Fianna Fail concluded their annual parliamentary party think-ins.

Mr Martin was quizzed over his desire to become Taoiseach, while at the same time his puzzling decision to rule out a coalition with Fine Gael or Sinn Fein.

"How I am approaching it is incumbent on the leader of any political party going into a general election to aspire to be the leader and aspire to be a Taoiseach. That is to me, natural, and a natural position to adopt, but also important in terms of the preparation of policies and ideas that we want to see implemented in government," he said.

"I said we are not going into government with Fine Gael and we are not going into government with Sinn Fein. I said it earlier this morning. I can't be any clearer," he added.

The Fianna Fail think-in was staged just days after former minister Mary Hanafin insisted that voters were "absolutely not" ready to return the party to power.

Ms Hanafin also took a major swipe at members of the party's front bench and accused them of being virtually anonymous.

While TDs were publicly critical of Ms Hanafin's intervention, several deputies privately conceded that they agreed with her assertion that Fianna Fail is not ready to return to government at the next election.

Separately, Mr Martin said Fianna Fail had no proposals for a referendum on abortion in light of the recent 'Miss Y' case.

"We don't have any plans to bring in any proposals for a referendum to change the constitution as of now," he said.

Mr Martin was last year forced to allow a free vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy legislation due to the level of opposition within the parliamentary party. He said he would continue to allow his TDs to vote according to their consciences in the future on the issue of abortion.

"We are a pro-life party. We have allowed conscience votes and we will allow conscience votes on this issue in the future," he added.

However, on the issue of next year's same-sex marriage referendum, Mr Martin said Fianna Fail would campaign in favour of a change to the law.

Mr Martin was also forced to defend his party's record in terms of female representation.

On the issue of gender quotas, Mr Martin said he would seek to ensure that the party met the 30pc quota of general election female candidates.

He said that any female general election candidates selected would be individuals he expected to take a seat.

Irish Independent