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Micheál Martin says his staff committed him to backing rent freeze by mistake

Martin was also grilled over a typo in the party’s manifesto.

PastedImage-48642 Source: RTÉ/Twitter

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has said the party will not introduce a rent freeze if elected and claimed a feminist manifesto signed in his name committing to the measure was done in error by staff.  

Martin blamed “people from headquarters” for signing him up to the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s Feminist Manifesto which commits candidates to ’10 key demands’ such as public childcare, ending violence against women and a rent freeze.

The organisation claims 125 candidates have signed up to their manifesto, including Ministers Katherine Zappone and Fine Gael’s Josepha Madigan.

During a sit-down interview with RTÉ’s Bryan Dobson, Martin was asked about the support the party previously had for the introduction rent freeze. 

Fianna Fáil allowed the Sinn Féin Bill proposing a rent freeze pass in the Dáil in December, but continued questioning on whether the party would support such a freeze and what evidence they had to support their decision not to commit to a freeze, resulted in the publication of the party’s legal advice – which claims it would be unconstitutional. 

When asked by Dobson if he knew that he had been signed up to the NWCI’S manifesto, Martin blamed staff for the error. 

“People from headquarters sent that over and that is something that  I have dealt with… No, we are not promising a rent freeze because it is unconstitutional.”

It has previously stated that the proposed rent freeze laws could pass the test in the courts.

David Kenny – Assistant Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin said that when assessing if a restriction on property rights is unconstitutional, the courts apply a proportionality test: they assess if the benefit of the law in advancing the common good is outweighed by the harm to personal rights.

In assessing this, context is king, said Kenny, stating that the courts have to consider the particular objectives of the law and the current social problems it is designed to address.

Typo

Dobson also grilled Martin on inaccuracies in his party’s manifesto. An earlier version said the party was promising to build 250,000 new houses over a five-year period but in a later version, that figure was changed to 200,000.

Martin blamed larger figure on people in the party being “ambitious” and clarified that the actual figure is a “conservative” 200,000. 

“It can be either actually… It could be higher, but we’re going conservative…people were more ambitious at that particular time.”

Martin went on to say the “typo” was explained to journalists at the time of the manifesto launch.  

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Adam Daly

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