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Martin says government surprised by scale of anger levelled against them this week

Martin said Fine Gael faced backlash from the people over homelessness comments.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Source: Sam Boal

FIANNA FÁÍL LEADER Micheál Martin has said the Government was taken off guard with the level of anger levelled against them over their stance on homelessness this week.

Addressing his party members at their annual presidential dinner, he said:

I think they were surprised by the scale of the anger at their effort this week to recast the homelessness situation as really not that bad.  And have no doubt – it was a strategy not a mistake.
The Taoiseach and others worked to put out the idea that as long as things are worse somewhere else we shouldn’t be so negative.

“They got their response in the swift and overwhelming reaction of everyone,” he added.

The government has been forced into repeated explanations, clarifications and comments on what their assessment is of the housing crisis in Ireland.

This was brought on after the Taoiseach was asked to comment on why Ireland’s rate of homelessness was at an all time high, and he answered by calling Ireland’s rate of homelessness low “compared with our peers”.

But when that claim was examined by TheJournal.ie‘s FactCheck team it found that that claim was “unproven”, it is very difficult to compare figures in any meaningful way across different nations.

One of Ireland’s most experienced homeless campaigners, Father Peter McVerry, said that he was “furious” over the Taoiseach’s comments.

But what’s better than that is that we don’t think that’s good enough and we want to continue to reduce homelessness in the years ahead.

“The government should be aware that the time for spin is long over. There must be urgent and sustained delivery. Put aside the staged photos and focus. If they put half as much effort into building houses as they put into launching documents we wouldn’t be caught in the middle of such an unprecedented crisis,” said Martin.

While Martin’s speech coincided with Gerry Adams’ speech at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis this evening, he again ruled out the possibility of going into government with Sinn Fein – even if Adams is not at the helm.

“The party is much more than the person and the party remains as unreformed and as unsuitable for government as ever.

“I take no satisfaction in saying that, 20 years after the ceasefire, Sinn Fein is unacceptable for us as a government party. As our members reaffirmed at the Ard Fheis, for Fianna Fáil they are not and will not be a possible partner,” he said.

Read: ‘There’s nothing normal about living by the side of the road with your children’

Read: FactCheck: Does Ireland really have a low rate of homelessness by international standards?>

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