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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C Micheál Martin
# Fighting Talk
Micheál Martin has just issued a big challenge to Enda
The Fianna Fáil leader says he’ll go all the way to Mayo to debate the Taoiseach – and Micheal Ring can ask the questions.

Updated 8.40pm

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has challenged Enda Kenny to a debate in the Taoiseach’s own Mayo constituency.

Martin accused Kenny of having “wriggled” out of every debate challenge he has issued in the last four years. He said that if the Fine Gael leader wants to prove he has nothing to fear from Fianna Fáil then he should face him in a direct debate.

Martin said that he’d be happy to have the debate on Kenny’s home turf, at a meeting of Mayo Fine Gael, with the Taoiseach’s party and constituency colleague Micheal Ring asking the questions.

The challenge was due to be delivered in a speech to Fianna Fáil members at the party’s presidential dinner, an annual fundraiser, at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel in Dublin tonight.

However, Martin did not deliver his pre-prepared speech following the fire which killed 10 people in Carrickmines today. He said it was not the night for “political discourse”.

In his scripted remarks, Martin claimed that Fine Gael is panicked by what Fianna Fáil is offering to the electorate.

“Only last week Enda Kenny’s office put out a memo telling Fine Gael TDs to spend more time attacking Fianna Fáil and me personally,” he said.

The only thing this shows is just how panicked they are by us.  Why else would they be doing it?

“They might deny this, and no doubt Enda Kenny will say he has nothing to fear from me or Fianna Fáil.  Well there’s a very easy way for him to prove that – face me in a direct debate.

Martin said that if Kenny believes there is a huge risk from Fianna Fáil leading the next government then he should have “no problem” taking part in a “proper debate”.

11/9/2015. FG Think Ins Meetings Eamonn Farrell Enda Kenny Eamonn Farrell

If he wants I’ll be happy to have the debate in Mayo. I’ll do it at a meeting of Mayo Fine Gael if he wants. I’ll even let Michael Ring ask the questions.
Enda, if you really believe your own rhetoric, if you think we’re no threat to you, then stop the running and let’s have a proper debate.

“So far every time he’s been challenged he’s wriggled out of debate.  He’ll do stage-managed speeches.  He’ll do short interviews.  But he keeps running away from a proper head-to-head debate over 90 minutes.”

The challenge was issued at the end of a week where speculation about an early election has intensified after Kenny refused to rule it out. Martin fiercely criticised “the messing of the last week”, saying:

It’s simply confirmation of what has been obvious for some time – the one and only thing this government cares about is party politics.  The only thing they are willing to fight for is party advantage.

Speaking to reporters after the event, he also accused the Taoiseach of showing “arrogance” in refusing to confirm the date of the upcoming general election.

I think his behaviour over the last week has been somewhat chaotic and has shown a degree of contempt for his own partners in government, Labour; the Oireachtas… and the Irish people.

Martin ruled out going into coalition with Fine Gael and Sinn Féin, saying the party’s focus was on maximising its vote, and reiterated that he would stay on as leader after the election.

Insisting that Fianna Fáil is ready for a vote whenever it is called, he confirmed that former minister Pat Carey will be the party’s director of elections.

Carey played a key role in the same-sex marriage referendum campaign. Martin said the former Dublin Mid-West TD was “known and respected” throughout the party.

With him leading the team I know we will fight a campaign which draws on the strength of all of our members and is focused on our vision of an Ireland for all.

Read: Within weeks, this man could be Fianna Fáil’s new leader… or unemployed

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