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Micheál Martin gives Taoiseach an E- grade on jobs

The Fianna Fáil leader was speaking as the party’s Ard Fheis got under way at the RDS in Dublin this evening.

Micheál Martin speaking at the RDS in Dublin this evening
Micheál Martin speaking at the RDS in Dublin this evening
Image: TheJournal.ie

Updated 8.45pm (see below)

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has said that Enda Kenny and the government get an E- grade for their performance on job creation as he hit back at earlier criticism from the Taoiseach.

Speaking as the party’s Ard Fheis got underway at the RDS in Dublin this evening, Martin also said that the Taoiseach “tells a different story internationally” as he hit back at earlier criticism from Kenny about spiralling unemployment under the last government.

Speaking about the issue of abortion, Martin said it was about what the parliamentary party decided as the Ard Fheis prepares to hear a number of motions that will call for Fianna Fáil to reaffirm its pro-life position.

Martin accused the government of an “old-style” political attack on his party and its record in the final years of the last government.

“I think today the Taoiseach was trying to shift focus away from a very poor jobs performance. Remember this is the government that promised 100,000 jobs before the last election, net,” Martin said.

“And today he unbelievably gave himself an A grade in terms of the employment issue. Unfortunately I think there are many families across the country that perhaps would not support the A grade for his or his government’s performance on that.”

Martin said that while the Taoiseach has pointed to the role that the European debt crisis played in Ireland’s economic collapse when he speaking to European leaders such as French president Francois Hollande he had not done so on the home front where he had blamed Fianna Fáil.

“So I think again he’s playing politics today,” Martin said. “Fundamentally, I think he is trying to take the focus off the jobs issue and I think it’s ironic you know that a leader of a government of broken promises starts talking about trust in politics.”

Asked what grade he would give the government and Enda Kenny, he said: “Well, an E- on jobs.”

Abortion

Martin said he expected a “strong debate” on abortion at the party Ard Fheis this weekend and said that any legislation the government introduces would have to give priority to protecting the mother.

But he said there was concern about the “suicide issue” and said the party would “wait and see legislation”.

Asked if it was his own view that the threat to the life of a woman should include the risk of suicide in legislation, Martin said: “In my view, it’s not what I personally think. But of course as a parliamentary party we will be taking our decision on this.

“This issue is in terms of the suicide threat in terms of how you legislate for that. Do you inadvertently create a situation where you have abortion on demand or open the floodgates? So that’s an argument that has been made.”

He said he was not going to “play politics” with the abortion issue.

“It’s too sensitive, it’s too serious, there is a constitutional prohibition on abortion in the country, that is still there and I think it’s important to bear that in mind as well,” Martin said.

He also said that his main objective as leader of Fianna Fáil was “renewal of the party” and speaking about the local elections next year, he said: “The good news is we’re getting a lot of younger people in the party.”

UPDATE: Fianna Fáil has contacted TheJournal.ie to point out that Micheál Martin was not expressing a personal view when asked about the inclusion of suicidal risk in abortion legislation earlier.

When asked about this, Martin said: “In my view, it’s not what I personally think. But of course as a parliamentary party we will be taking our decision on this.”

A Fianna Fáil spokesperson said Martin intended his comment to mean that his own personal opinions – whatever they may be – are not of consequence to the debate.

Read: “Just shy of 7,000 job losses a month” – Kenny attacks Fianna Fáil’s record in power ahead of party’s Árd Fheis

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Hugh O'Connell

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