Micheal Martin: SF are 'letting down their electorate' by allowing DUP to be sole voice in Westminster
FIANNA Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused Sinn Féin of letting down their electorate by not taking their seats in Westminster and allowing the DUP to be the sole voice for Northern Ireland in the UK parliament.
Mr Martin said it was "totally illogical" for Sinn Féin to maintain its long-standing position of refusing to take their Westminster seats, particularly given the wipe-out suffered by the SDLP.
However, his remarks sparked an angry response from Sinn Féin with Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald challenging Fianna Fáil to run candidates in Northern Ireland if the party was that concerned about the northern electorate.
“Micheál Martin is a hurler on the ditch in this election. We will not take lectures from him. Sinn Féin represents the Nationalist and Republican people in the north of our country, Fianna Fáil don’t even attempt to represent people there, so Micheál Martin should either put up or shut up," she said.
The Dublin TD said Sinn Féin MPs were elected with the mandate of not taking their Westminster seats - a mandate she vowed would be honoured.
“Mr Martin says Sinn Fein’s position is incomprehensible. What is really incomprehensible is that a so-called Republican Party doesn’t stand in elections in the north of our country."
“Instead of worrying about representation in Westminster Fianna Fáil should work with Sinn Féin to secure speaking rights for Irish MPs, representing Irish people, in the Dáil.”
However, Mr Martin slated Sinn Féin for effectively allowing the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to be the only voice for Northern Ireland in the UK parliament.
"I think it is not acceptable and I think it was a crazy (Sinn Féin) policy to say in advance we attack the Tories, we don't want the Tories in Government and we attack the Government in the Republic for not being strong enough with the Tories and, lo and behold, they get a mandate and they decide not to exercise it to curtail the worst excesses, if you like it, of the Tories," Mr Martin said.
"I think it is totally illogical for Sinn Féin to say they can stay out of Westminster given that Brexit is the single greatest issue facing our generation."
"Brexit is the single greatest issue we face on jobs. It is the single greatest issue of our generation."
"The impact on rural and urban Ireland of a hard Brexit is potentially catastrophic in terms of the agri-food industry."
"Irish creameries are very worried about Brexit."
Mr Martin, speaking in Cork, said Brexit was of huge concern to the entire island of Ireland.
"Yet here we have an opportunity for Sinn Féin to influence moderate opinion and they are refusing to take part."
"It shows a party that is just focused on the election and on count day. But beyond count day they are not taking part in governance."
"It is illogical."
"It happened here after our General Election here, it happened in Northern Ireland where they brought down the institutions and we are still working to try to restore them."
"Now it is happening after the June election in the UK."
Mr Martin said it was "an obvious concern" that the sole voice for Northern Ireland in Westminster was now going to be that of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
"In the interests of the people of Ireland, the entire island of Ireland, it is completely illogical that they (Sinn Féin) would not take their seats in Westminster."
"Particularly in light of the Good Friday Agreement which was voted on by the people of Ireland."
"This was a new constitution in itself. This was a reworking of the constitutional relationships between Britain and Ireland on this island and that facilitates the entry into Westminster of people taking their seats."
"This is the first time since 1964 that Nationalists will not have a voice in Westminster at a time when we are facing the single greatest economic and social challenge to the country in a generation."
"This is not just something for four years. It is a fundamental change to our economic model."
Mr Martin also queried the new found strength of the DUP.
"There will be concerns there that it might be a very imbalanced approach to Northern Ireland politics."
"It is effectively going to be a very one-sided operation and that is indeed a concern."
"But there might be potential that voices within the DUP will see the logic of sensible, pragmatic arrangements in Ireland in regards to Brexit."
"They may not like the language around economic status and economic zone but I do think they get the need for the minimal disruption to economic activities."
Mr Martin said his hope is that the UK election results will strengthen the hands of those who favour a 'soft' Brexit.
"The good thing is that I believe this puts a brake on a hard Brexit," he said.
"I think there will be many more voices now in the Westminster parliament that want a softer Brexit and a more logical Brexit that retains access to the Single Market."