Saturday 7 December 2019

Micheal Martin rejects Hanafin assertion that FF TDs are anonymous

Mr Martin said he disagrees with former education minister Mary Hanafin who last week launched a scathing attack on the performance of Fianna Fail's front bench.
Mr Martin said he disagrees with former education minister Mary Hanafin who last week launched a scathing attack on the performance of Fianna Fail's front bench.

Niall O'Connor

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has rejected claims that members of his front bench are "anonymous" but admitted that the party needs to improve in the run up to the general election.

Mr Martin said he disagrees with former education minister Mary Hanafin who last week launched a scathing attack on the performance of Fianna Fail's front bench.

Ms Hanafin told independent.ie that the public cannot name several of the party's TDs because they have been ineffective in Opposition.

The newly elected Blackrock councillor also said voters are "absolutely not" ready to return Fianna Fáil to power.

Speaking at the party's annual think-in in Roscommon, Mr Martin rejected Ms Hanafin's remarks. However, the Cork TD admitted that Fianna Fáil needs to improve in areas of policy.

"I've said to some of my colleagues we need to start at the bottom of the hill with a large bowler and roll it up the hill. We have a different challenge going ahead," he said.

We have more work to do, we certainly can improve and we are going to improve, We're going to, particularly in terms of other policy areas, develop robust and strong policies to take on that challenge.

Read more: Hanafin has some home truths for FF

"I don't agree with Mary Hanafin's analysis. But I do welcome criticism. As leader of the party, I facilitate people to speak their minds but I wouldn't agree with the analysis," he added.

Separately, Mr Martin accused the government of misleading the Dail in relation to the health budget.

The Fianna Fáil leader said that the warning by the HSE that planned savings in the area of medical cards could not be achieved showed the government "cooked the books on health".

Read more: Hanafin's stinging rebuke reveals FF's lack of mojo

Mr Martin was referring to correspondence between HSE chief Tony O'Brien and the Department of Health in which Mr O'Brien warned that the 2014 budget and service plan for the health service was "unsafe and unrealistic".

The correspondence, detailed in the Sunday Independent, revealed Mr O'Brien's concerns that the government's approach in the area of health was putting patient safety at risk.

Mr Martin called for an independent parliamentary body to be put in place to scrutinise the health budget in the future.

"The government has lived a lie for three and a half years on health. And I think that's an absolutely appalling indictment of their stewardship of the health portfolio itself," Mr Martin said.

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