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'Coalitionology' is the new buzzword in Irish politics right now

At the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, Micheál Martin says there has been an attempt to frame the election around polls.
Jan 16th 2016, 1:15 PM 8,728 59

16/1/2016 Party Leader Micheal Martin speaking to Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

MICHEÁL MARTIN HAS said the focus of the general election must focus on issues as opposed to what parties are willing to go into coalition with each other.

The Fianna Fáil leader was speaking to reporters at his party’s Ard Fheis which is taking place today at the Citywest Hotel in Co Dublin and is expected to be attended by thousands of party members.

Martin said there has been an attempt, “and Fine Gael are at the heart of this”, to frame the election around polls and the view that the only possible option for the next taoiseach will be Enda Kenny:

That’s not fair to the Irish people, people deserve a choice.

He was reacting to comments by jobs spokesperson Dara Calleary, who suggested that the party will be willing to look to smaller political groupings as potential coalition partners.

Martin also raised the issue of ‘coalitionology’, a term used by head of BBC News James Harding to describe how the station became preoccupied with poll numbers and the effect this had on its coverage of the UK general election. Harding said in hindsight the dissection of policy was more important.

However, Martin was still willing to categorically rule out Sinn Féin as a coalition partner, responding with an “are you serious?” when the suggestion was put to him.

He said such a coalition was “out of the question”, describing himself as “one of [Sinn Féin's] most forceful critics, holding Sinn Féin to account for a whole range of issues, the most recent being the unacceptable defence by Gerry Adams of Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy in relation to the tax conviction”.

Martin said the focus of this year’s Ard Fheis is to present to the public that there will be “a choice” in the next general election. The feedback on the doorsteps has been positive but more work needs to be done to “seed the votes”, he said.

I understand the challenges, I understand the cynicism out there towards politics. You know what? I’m engaging with people on the doorsteps, and people are concerned about the future.

Martin believes the public has already expressed their opinion on the previous Fianna Fáil government in 2011, but that the party has since “reconnected” with voters

Follow @TJ_Politics on Twitter for all the latest from the Ard Fheis.

Poll: Will you vote for Fianna Fáil? >

More: Catch all of our election coverage over at TheJournal.ie Election Centre >

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Nicky Ryan

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