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Leah Farrell
General Election

John Lahart TD says he doesn't expect Micheál Martin to lead Fianna Fáil into the next election

TD John McGuinness said yesterday that Micheál Martin should step down as party leader in December.

FIANNA FÁIL TD John Lahart has said he does not expect Micheál Martin to lead the party into the next election.

It comes after his party colleague John McGuinness said that Martin should resign as party leader as he steps down from the role of Taoiseach at the end of the year.

McGuinness also said the party should refuse to back Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach if Micheál Martin does not stand down as Fianna Fáil leader.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Lahart said:

“The Taoiseach has said he is going to lead the party into the next election and I understand why he has said that.

“If you look at Enda Kenny, he announced one day he was going to cease to be Taoiseach a couple of months ahead of time and literally within an hour, his power as Taoiseach began to evaporate and speculation began as to who was going to succeed him.

“I don’t believe he will lead us into the next General Election. It is not beyond the man actually – he has done it before – to walk into the Dáil and make a dramatic statement.”

Martin, who has led Fianna Fail since 2011, has been the Taoiseach since 2020 but is due to hand the position over to Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar in December as part of the agreements of the coalition government, mid-way through its term.

‘Excellent Taoiseach’

Lahart said that Martin “has been an excellent Taoiseach” and is held in very high regard within the party.

However, he added that there was nothing negative about opening up a conversation ahead of the transition in December when Varadkar will rotate back into the roll as Taoiseach. 

The transition “focuses minds – particularly if we don’t think he is going to lead us into the next election”, added Lahart.

He said the party must consider what steps should we take to ensure the party is in the “best shape to face the electorate in 2025″.

Lahart also said that the Programme for Government needs a fresh look, stating that he  was “kind of surprised” to hear both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste rule out any review at the half-way point.

“The Programme for Government was agreed two years ago. I think everybody would agree that if it is to be relevant, it should be a living document with an opportunity to, kind of, breathe new life into it.

“The world has changed dramatically since the Programme for Government was agreed,” he said.

He said no one is talking about a complete renegotiation, but he said it needs updating to deal with the problems facing society today. He added that such a review is not unprecedented and has happened in the past. 

Backbench TDs in Fianna Fáil are serious about the review being needed, said Lahart, stating that there are real consequences for Fianna Fáil losing the office of An Taoiseach in December.

“Communications is clearly an issue in terms of Fianna Fáil asserting itself in Government,” he added. 

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