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Martin challenges Opposition to televised debates

New leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin says the focus of the upcoming election campaign must be on “substantial debate”

Image: Stephen Kilkenny

THE NEW LEADER of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin has kicked off his new role with a show of strength by challenging opposition leaders to a series of televised debates.

As reported live from Martin’s press conference yesterday, Martin has invited Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to a series at least five debates, including two three-way discussions, a number of one-on-ones, and a separate debate in the Irish language.

Upon being elected to the position last night, Martin said: “I can assure you that my party intends campaigning with energy and with fresh ideas”. He promised that new policies and ideas for the party and would be disclosed over the coming weeks. He also insisted that he would tackle the perceptions nepotism existing within Fianna Fáil – indicating that the days of ‘jobs for the boys’ were over.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night, Martin apologised for mistakes made by the party, saying that recent failures were a “collectoive responsibility” and that the upcoming general election needed to be “different” and focus on “substantial debate”.

Martin said that he fundamentally agreed with Brian Cowen’s plan for economic recovery, supported the four year plan and believed that the party’s ideas to bring the budget deficit under control were the most credible.

Meanwhile, the focus has turned now to the appointment of his deputy leader, which is expected to happen soon. Martin has not yet indicated who he is considering for the position, however when asked if he would be happy for Brian Lenihan to defend FF’s economic policy during the forthcoming campaign he said: “Of course I would. Brian Lenihan has given extraordinary commitment to the country over the last number of years.”

Read more:

Kenny rejects three-way debate suggestion

Gilmore accepts Martin debate challenge “in principle”

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