‘You want an election every year’: Micheál Martin hits out at Sinn Féin

‘You Want An Election Every Year’: Micheál Martin Hits Out At Sinn Féin
Micheál Martin sparred with Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty during Leaders’ Questions. Photo: PA
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has accused Sinn Féin of not having the substantial policies needed to contest a general election.

The Fianna Fáil leader and Minister for Foreign Affairs sparred with Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty during Leaders’ Questions over the Coalition Government’s record in office.


Opposition parties are pushing for a general election to be called after Leo Varadkar surprised the political system by announcing his immediate resignation as Fine Gael leader on Wednesday.

He will step aside as Taoiseach once his successor has been selected by his party.

But members of the opposition have called it an undemocratic way to select the next leader of the country.

Irish Budget
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty sparred with Tánaiste Micheál Martin over the Coalition’s record in office. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Doherty said: “The Taoiseach has thrown in the towel, he has said he’s not up for the job. None of you are up for the job. What the public need is change.

“What they don’t need is a rearranging of the deckchairs in this Government, a Government that is spectacularly failing.

“Let the people decide, because we will go toe to toe with you in the morning.”


He said Fine Gael has been in government far too long and changing the party’s leader will change nothing.

Mr Martin said the people do not want a general election.

“You want an election every year,” he said. “I’m more focused on the bread-and-butter issues that matter to people.”



Mr Martin said he has fought “far” more elections than Mr Doherty and warned him: “Don’t be talking to me and lecture me on elections.

“You’re not ready for a general election, deputy. No, you’re not. You need policies, deputy, and you need substance. You don’t have substance.”

He added: “Just last week your party were calling us and acknowledged and thanked the Government in terms of the Shared Island initiative and huge funding in Northern Ireland.

“I thought the comments from your First Minister left a lot to be desired. Very partisan comments from the First Minister in respect of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, given a month ago, the glowing response to the Government’s Shared Island Initiative.

“We’ve done more in respect of cross-Border development and investment in Northern Ireland than any government for many a year.”

Fine Gael TDs, Senators, MEPs and councillors have publicly backed Simon Harris as a candidate for the leadership, while senior Fine Gael ministers Simon Coveney, Helen McEntee, Paschal Donohoe and Heather Humphreys have ruled themselves out.

Fine Gael party think-in
Simon Harris is reported to be the frontrunner to take over from Leo Varadkar as Fine Gael leader and Taioseach (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Doherty said: “We’re told that the frontrunner for the highest office in the land is Simon Harris.

“Let’s remember that this is a minister whose record in the Department of Health was so bad that it precipitated the last general election. A man who made false promises to children with scoliosis and their families about when they would get their treatment.

“If this is best this Government can muster, it is clear that this is a Government that is out of touch, that is out of time.”

Labour leader Ivana Bacik accused the mechanisms of being an “act of political self-preservation”.

“Fine Gael is grappling with an exodus, Fianna Fáil and the Greens will apparently cling to a sinking ship no matter what, following yesterday. And it’s having a serious effect on our policies, on our governance.”

Mr Martin replied that she should be “careful” about accusations of “sinking ships” considering the state of her own party.

“Your own party will want to rise a bit more, I think, before you lecture others about sinking ships,” he said.

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