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'They need to cop on': Fianna Fáil denies it's biding its time to bring the government down

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin said the government had to stop looking over its shoulder and lead.

24/4/2016 1916 Easter Rising Centenary Celebrations Source: RollingNews.ie

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Michéal Martin made a Freudian slip yesterday when he told the media that his party was not in opposition.

“We are not in opposition, sorry, we are not in government. We wanted to be in government but we didn’t get the numbers.”

Smiling, Martin was quick to correct himself. But was this a slip of the tongue?

The truth is, Fine Gael need them and Fianna Fáil know this.

After being decimated in the 2011 vote, it had the best election result of any party this year.

It more than doubled its number of TDs, with 44 elected. Last weekend, the latest poll said Fianna Fáil is the most popular in the country – with 28% support.

Martin’s party is on a bit of a high

Riding this wave, Martin said yesterday that he would one day like to be Taoiseach – but was quick to point out that this is ultimately up to the Irish people.

A statement like this might not have been made so easily back in 2011, but now it seems to be a lot more palatable.

With thoughts of being Taoiseach being floated, it raises the question as to when the people will be back at the ballot boxes.

It all depends on how this government beds in, how members of the Independent Alliance and Fine Gael get on in Cabinet but also how long Fianna Fáil plays ball.

For now, Fianna Fáil has been but that could all change.

19/9/2016. Fiana Fail Think-In Carlow. Fianna Fail Source: Eamonn Farrell

Waiting in the long grass?

Housing Minister Simon Coveney recently told TheJournal.ie that he thinks Fianna Fáil is biding its time, waiting in the long grass for the perfect opportunity to pull the whole show down.

[After the Budget] it is really about delivery and how Fianna Fáil behave in opposition and do they strategically want to pull the government down, which I think at some point they may want to do. But they might find it difficult to do it unless they have a very good reason.

13/9/2016. Fine Gael Think Ins Source: Eamonn Farrell

When asked by TheJournal.ie if this is the case, Martin told reporters yesterday:

They need to cop on and stop talking in that vein. No government can operate on a proper basis if they just keep looking over their shoulders like that. They need to lead from the front.

Martin said the party “will look at issues on their merit”.

We will do the right thing by the country in terms of working with all of the parties, including the government, to get the best outcome for Ireland in what will be a difficult scenario in the next two years.

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Budget day

The first hurdle for this government is the Budget, taking place on 11 October.

Martin said it is not a case of Fianna Fáil vetoing parts of the Budget, but a matter of compromise.

If you make a commitment in terms of the formation of a government – you honour it, you don’t try and bring down a government in the first six months.

Due to the new Oireachtas Committee on Budgetary Oversight, Martin said Budget details will be a lot more “transparent” this year.

Under the confidence and supply agreement between the two parties, it’s understood that there are to be no surprises in the Budget.

There’s no doubt about it, it definitely irritates Fine Gael that the government has to run the Budget past its long-time party rivals.

“I think it irks Fine Gael, I think that would be a fair assessment. We would much rather do it without having to talk to Fianna Fáil but we live in a democracy… we have a deal with them… but make no mistake, this will be a Fine Gael and independent-led budget. We are in government, it is our job to make decisions,” Coveney said recently.

With just over three weeks until Budget day, only time will tell just how robust the negotiations will get.

With independents and Fianna Fáil in the mix, Fine Gael will have its work cut out keeping everyone happy.

Read: Fianna Fáil’s call for water charges to be abolished ‘first shot in election campaign’

Read: ‘A change of leadership is required’: Rumblings in Fine Gael that Enda should go

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