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War of Words

These two are not happy about Leo's sly digs at Micheál Martin

Varadkar’s labelling of Martin as the leader of “the third party” has not gone down well.

FullSizeRender Billy Kelleher and Michael McGrath outside Leinster House today

FIANNA FÁIL TDS have hit back at the Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s dismissal of their party leader Micheál Martin yesterday as the row over a proposed one-on-one debate with Enda Kenny rumbles on.

Martin is pushing for a live one-on-one TV debate with the Taoiseach, but there has been no indication so far that Kenny would be willing to take part.

Yesterday, a number of Fine Gael ministers backed Kenny, with Varadkar saying he saw no reason why Kenny should debate Martin as he is “the leader of the third party”.

Ministers Charlie Flanagan and Richard Bruton also backed Kenny: / SoundCloud

But speaking outside Leinster House today, Fianna Fáil’s health spokesperson Billy Kelleher pointed out that Varadkar “has form attacking party leaders”.

“He did a fair bit of attacking of his own party leader only four years ago when he said that he didn’t have confidence in him and he didn’t trust him and neither did the Irish people. 

“Now he’s done a u-turn on that as well. Now he’s claiming massive loyalty to the leader.”

Fianna Fáil recently uploaded this clip of Varadkar speaking about Kenny on RTÉ in June 2010 to its YouTube channel: 

FiannaFailParty / YouTube

Kelleher claimed that Kenny’s conference speech last weekend was predicated on attacking others as opposed to outlining his own vision. He added that Kenny  ”should come out and have a debate, outline his vision, outline his policies”.

Also speaking today, the Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said that following Varadkar’s logic would mean that Kenny would effectively be debating Joan Burton, as the leader of the second largest party in the Dáil.

“If you extend the logic of what Leo Varadkar said well then the government would only be debating with themselves. The first party would be debating with the second largest party and we’d have an internal government debate.

“Whether he likes it or not or Enda Kenny likes it or not, Micheál Martin is the leader of the largest opposition party and in any normal democracy leaders will debate each other.

“RTÉ have already facilitated a debate between Joan Burton and Gerry Adams. So why shouldn’t there be a debate between Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin?”

Read: Gerry Adams just got the better of Joan Burton on last night’s Claire Byrne Live

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