FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin says he still keeps in touch with former taoiseach Brian Cowen and had a “good chat” with his predecessor at the funeral of former Kerry GAA boss Páidí Ó Sé.
He also told TheJournal.ie this week that he had a “quick word” with former taoiseach Bertie Ahern around ten days ago but says that neither of the two former party leaders have any input on current party policy.
“I mean they are private citizens they go about their lives,” he said.
Martin has spent much of his two years as leader of the opposition party trying to rebuild Fianna Fáil and move it away from the era of Ahern – who was found to have lied to the Planning Tribunal – and Cowen – who was taoiseach when Ireland entered the EU/IMF bailout.
Martin said that he’d a “good chat” with Cowen at Ó Sé’s funeral in December and confirmed that he still keeps in touch with the former party leader.
He also said that he met Ahern at another event linked to Ó Sé, the launch of a ‘Páidí Ó Sé Football Festival’ which will take place later this month.
“I met him socially at that, I just had a quick word with him,” he said.
On Fianna Fáil’s poll rating, Cowen and Bertie:
He said that both men would have little interest in contributing to party policy or current political issues, pointing out that this is often the case with former taoisigh.
“Their view on life is they’ve been there,” he said.
“It’s traditional with taoisigh of all parties, generally speaking when they retire they want to let it to the incoming or those who are in incumbent, in office to get on with it.”
Martin also said he does not take a recent poll which found his party was the most popular in the country too seriously: “It’s not great news for us at all really to be honest with you because I don’t take polls that seriously.
“I said this when we were very low in the polls and I’m saying this now. The trend is probably useful in that we’re going in the right direction but it’s going to take a long time for us to regain the trust of the Irish people,” he said in a wide-ranging interview this week.
He said that increasingly the party is getting a more positive reception on the doorsteps when out canvassing describing the difference between now and campaigning during the general election in 2011 as a “big contrast”.
“People are talking to us,” he said.
“People’s main concern on the door is their own obvious… obviously their own position in terms of jobs, capacity to pay bills, future for their young people in terms of jobs, cost of education, the mortgage arrears issue and they’re looking for solutions,” he added.