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FG are "very right-wing" and not "comfortable bedfellows" for Fianna Fáil

Micheál Martin’s also said he doesn’t agree with Mary Hanafin’s point-of-view – that Ireland isn’t ready to vote his party back into power…

THIS WEEK’S FIANNA Fáil think-in conference in Roscommon hasn’t come at a particularly opportune time for Micheál Martin’s party.

An opinion poll at the weekend showed the main opposition party still languishing at the 18 per cent mark, for the second time in less than a month.

And, after his initial remarks criticising the Government’s performance on the issue of health, Martin was immediately faced with questions on the relatively unremarkable showing as he arrived at the Abbey Hotel this afternoon.

The local elections were the real poll, the Cork TD insisted, pointing to the strong showing by Fianna Fáil in the 23 May vote. He noted, however, that the upcoming by-elections in Roscommon-South Leitrim and Dublin South West would be “very challenging” and that he was taking “nothing for granted”.

Martin also had to deal with the recent criticism from former Cabinet colleague Mary Hanafin, who said last week that she believed voters weren’t ready to put Fianna Fáil in power. The former minister — recently reelected as a councillor — also accused the FF front bench line-up of being largely anonymous.

“I don’t agree with Mary Hanafin’s analysis but I do welcome criticism,” Martin said, stressing that he had always “facilitated people to speak their minds”.

“We want to contribute in Government in the next General Election, depending of course on the wishes of the people,” he said.

We will do that in whatever way is most effective.

On the prospect of sharing power with Fine Gael, he said that — in spite of the polls — he believed the party was “very very unpopular”

We will have our own policy remit. We have an independent policy platform. We want to see that policy platform implemented.

“The Fine Gael party in our view has been very regressive, in our view has been very right-wing in its policies.

They would not in any shape or form be comfortable bedfellows with us.

On the party’s chances in the upcoming by-election in the constituency, he said there was a sense in rural Ireland that there was a two-tier recovery under way and that Enda Kenny was presiding over a “very Dublin-centric Government”.

There’s a huge sense that people have been left behind right across the board from rural broadband capability to jobs to the attack on small rural schools.

Party TDs and senators are hearing from experts on a diverse range of issues — from economics to gender quotas and beef prices — at the two-day meeting.

Read: Senator Ned O’Sullivan is stepping up his campaign against seagulls

Read: Government “cooked the books” on Health budget — Martin

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