Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to take part in a 'no holds barred' public debate ahead of the General Election.
Speaking at his parliamentary party ‘think in’ at the Marine Hotel in Sutton, North Dublin, Mr Martin said he is 'absolutely' the only alternative Taoiseach to Mr Kenny.
Referring to recent revelations in the Irish Independent, the Fianna Fáil leader said Fine Gael’s 'fundamental strategy is to hide Enda Kenny as often as they can in order to propel themselves to victory'.
“It will be up to the Taoiseach to be up front and debate publicly with me in relation to these issues so we can have a fulsome, energetic and active campaign where political leaders don’t go for the soundbites or running for the organised PR opportunities,” Mr Martin added.
Mr Martin played down suggestions from Carlow Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward that sections of the Fianna Fáil membership in his constituency are in favour of a Coalition.
“There is a very strong centre ground opposition to facilitating Sinn Féin coming into Government in any shape or form,” he said.
He said the party “learned lessons” from the economic crash and promised not to make unrealistic proposals before the election.
“The electorate will look at the 2011 experience in terms of all the promises that were made and then reneged upon. I think people were taken back. I think it took Pat Rabbitte to explain that’s how things are done apparently,” he said.
The party is proposing an independent budgetary office to cost budget proposals.
He said the decision to add Sean Haughey to the Fianna Fáil ticket in Dublin Bay North along with the previously selected candidate Deidre Heney was “not personal”.
“It’s not personal in any shape or form, it’s not part of any club or anything like that. It’s very much a hard-nosed decision based on an objective assessment by the (national constituency) committee of what is the optimal means of winning a seat in this constituency and indeed in any other constituency,” Mr Martin said.