Taoiseach denies leadership is under threat

ireland
Taoiseach Denies Leadership Is Under Threat
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that he is not concerned about his position following the disappointing result of Fianna Fáil in the Dublin Bay South byelection.
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Olivia Kelleher

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that he is not concerned about his position following the disappointing result of Fianna Fáil in the Dublin Bay South byelection.

In a media doorstep after he received his second Covid vaccine at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork today Mr Martin refused to be drawn on a comment made by party election director Jim O'Callaghan.

Mr O’Callaghan said that Fianna Fáil “will have to think about” if the Taoiseach should lead the party in to the next general election.

Byelections

When asked if he was angry about the remarks made by Mr O'Callaghan Mr Martin said 'no.' He emphasised that he would continue to lead the party.

“I have given my reaction to this, I am very clear in terms of byelections,” he said.

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“I have made it very clear from the outset when I was elected Taoiseach what I intend to do — I do intend to lead this Government.”

The Taoiseach said that his focus was on this Government and the people of Ireland.

“Getting through Covid-19 is extremely important, recovering our economy. Recovering jobs and prioritising housing and healthcare — these are the issues people are concerned about.

“That is what people want Fianna Fáil to focus on and the other parties in Government. It is my intention then to, after the first part of Government and the transition and I become Tánaiste, it is my intention to lead the party into the next general election.”

Mr Martin emphasised that Opposition parties traditionally win byelections.

Governments rarely win byelections.

“This will be the 30th by-election since 1990 and this will be the 27th time the Opposition have won. Governments rarely win byelections — they are not in any way markers for a general election. We now that to be true even from our most recent experience. This constituency would not have been our strongest — it never has been.”

He added: “It illustrates the degree to which byelections are in no shape or form markers for general elections. The next general election is four years away. The Government is now going to focus on the issues at hand — dealing with Covid-19 and getting through Covid-19. Making sure we can facilitate Ireland's economic recovery and the recovery of jobs as well as focusing on housing, prioritising housing and health care.

“The Government has been very focused on the work in hand, and we will not have another general election for four years.”

Mr Martin said that he was well-received personally in the Dublin Bay constituency.

Doorsteps

“And we were well-received on the doorsteps. It was a positive campaign all around, and I would like to pay tribute to all the candidates, in particular to our own candidate Deirdre Conroy who is a councillor for just two years and would not have had the same established profile as some of the other candidates.”

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“I thank Jim O'Callaghan as (Fianna Fáil) director of elections for his efforts and the contribution that Jim made,” said Mr Martin.

Mr Martin congratulated Labour’s Ivana Bacik for topping the poll.

“I congratulate Ivana Bacik — it seems that she has done very, very well indeed. She is an accomplished parliamentarian in her own right as a senator.

“She has a long distinguished record in academia also, and I did pick up across the campaign that people responded well to the fact she had made such a contribution over the years.”

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