FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has defended his party in the face of criticism over its time in government saying there was too much “blanket blame” of the party following its demise.
In a wide ranging interview on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the former minister defended his party and his leadership of it which followed criticism from his own party members for approaching Gay Byrne about a possible run for the presidency.
Martin also defended some former ministers taking their ministerial severance payments, seemingly going against what he had advised prior to the election: “We’re the first set of cabinet ministers to waive severance payments,” he said.
He said that of Fianna Fáil’s time in government:
There’s too much of this going on about blanket blame for everything and lack of credit for what was done.
He also defended his much criticised decision to approach Byrne about running for the presidency – something the former RTÉ broadcaster later decided against – saying that he believed the people should have “as wide a choice as possible” saying that was “democratic and broadens choice for people.”
He believed that in deciding not to run its own candidate for the election Fianna Fáil had made the right decision and indicating that its own research showed there wouldn’t be any significant change in public opinion about he party since the general election.
Martin added it was important to focus on the next local elections and concentrate on rebuilding the party for the future saying it was vital the party emerged “as a strong political force.”
He indicated that Fianna Fáil would back a candidate but said that decision would not be made until after nominations close.
He also said that the party would be seeking to hold the Dublin-West by election for the seat vacated by the late Brian Lenihan on the same day as the presidential election and added that a local candidate would be picked.
Martin also backed the Economic and Social Research Institute’s call this morning for €4 billion to be cut in the coming budget.
“If you don’t do it early enough, you prolong the recession,” he added.