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Martin promises "swift and comprehensive" action on Mahon findings

Micheál Martin addresses the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis in Dublin this evening on plans for party reform.

Micheál Martin addresses the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis this evening in Dublin.
Micheál Martin addresses the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis this evening in Dublin.
Image: Stephen Kilkenny

MICHEÁL MARTIN has appealed to the grassroots supporters of Fianna Fáil in his opening address to the party’s Ard Fheis in the RDS this evening, calling for their help in reforming the party.

“Our members feel let down by people carrying Fianna Fáil’s banner who failed to live up to the standards of integrity which our founders set,” he said, receiving huge applause from the audience.

“Let me say loud and clear, your message has been heard.  I am determined that the people who belong to Fianna Fáil and support Fianna Fáil will never again be let down by low standards.”

Mahon

Martin outlined the three main areas of focus for party reforms – acting on the findings of the Mahon Tribunal, improving party transparency, and tackling fundraising issues.

“When the final report of the Mahon Tribunal is published we will act without fear or favour against anyone who is shown to have abused their position in Fianna Fáil or in elected office,” he said this evening. “Action will be swift and comprehensive.”

On the subject of fundraising, Martin said that Fianna Fáil members are demanding that the party acts to show that its fundraising “will be completely above suspicion”.

The Ard Fheis marks the start of a two-month dialogue period within which party members are invited to make their contribution to the party’s policies for the next year. Martin said a national policy conference will be held separately to the Ard Fheis to focus on those policy proposals.

Martin speaking to the press before addressing the party this evening. (Image: Christine Bohan/TheJournal.ie)

‘People won’t be fooled again’

Martin criticised the Fine Gael-Labour coalition for putting politics first and being “obsessed with the media management of every issue”. “People won’t be fooled again,” Martin said of future elections. “The next time a party campaigns on ‘not another red cent’ the public will be waiting for them.”

He said that he believes Ireland can get a “significant reduction” on the promissory notes, but that the government had mishandled negotiations on the issue.

Martin also criticised the proposed abolition of the Seanad as a “major step backward” and said it should play a “particular role in scrutinising European legislation”:

We believe that the Seanad has a role to play and should be reformed rather than abolished. It should be smaller and more efficient, salaries should be reduced. Our proposal includes directly elected Senators along with specialised areas being represented.

Tributes

The party leader said that the party continues to miss the late Brian Lenihan on economic and other issues. “It is right that we acknowledge him this weekend together with the great Lenihan family tradition of service to this country.”

Martin also paid tribute to his party leader predecessor and former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, saying he had “made an enormous contribution to this country and party.”

Read: Micheál Martin’s Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis address in full >

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