'Micheál Martin doesn't have the political courage to do the right thing' - Mary Mitchell O'Connor in scathing attack on Fianna Fáil leader
A Cabinet minister has staunchly attacked Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin as the prospect of a snap general election edges closer.
Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor today insisted that Fine Gael is “steadfast” in its support for Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.
And she accused Mr Martin of lacking political courage.
“We haven't heard a single coherent argument that explains the reasoning behind Fianna Fáil's position,” the Dun Laoghaire TD told Independent.ie.
“They are renegading on the supply and confidence agreement simply because they've been politically outflanked by Sinn Fein,” she added.
Ms Mitchell O’Connor described Ms Fitzgerald as “able and competent” and someone who has a track record in “achievement and integrity.”
But she went on to strongly attack Mr Martin.
“She (Ms Fitzgerald) should not be forced to resign simply because the leader of the opposition doesn't have the political capital or courage to stand up, do the right thing and fulfil his obligations,” she said.
"Fine Gael don't want an election.
"We want to continue the work of this government. We want to let the committee on the 8th amendment finish its sterling work. We want to continue to progress essential legislation such as the Appropriations Bill and the Technological Universities Bill. We want to focus on the upcoming Brexit summit.
"In short, we want to lead.
"But Fianna Fail are set on following. They are following Sinn Fein by engaging in the politics of populism, opportunism and cynical self interest.
"There is time left to avoid this, but to do so we need reasonable, strong, logical leadership from the opposition.”
Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin met earlier today.
A government spokesman said "There was a good exchange of views at the meeting and contact will continue throughout the weekend".
The Taoiseach this morning delivered a strong defence of embattled Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.
Mr Varadkar used a speech at the National Women’s Council of Ireland to again insist Ms Fitzgerald has done nothing wrong in her handling of a 2015 email relating to the Garda whistleblower scandal.
Mr Varadkar said: "I sincerely hope it won’t be my last engagement as Taoiseach".
Later in his speech he went on to defend Ms Fitzgerald. He asked the crowd what kind of message the Government would send if an “honourable” woman’s career is sacrificed without a fair hearing.
He said she was a role model for him in politics and he’s "proud to stand tall with her".
Mr Varadkar outlined her record over 25 years in political life in fighting for women’s rights. He said he believes the "majority of the Irish public" don’t want the Tanaiste to stand down.