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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019

Micheál Martin: I'm not a 'caretaker leader'

The Fianna Fáil leader acknowledged that he may never become Taoiseach, but said he is committed to leading the party through essential changes.

Micheál Martin speaking at the ard fheis last night
Micheál Martin speaking at the ard fheis last night
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

MICHEÁL MARTIN HAS rejected suggestions he is a ‘caretaker leader’ for Fianna Fáil, as the party holds its first ard fheis since last year’s general election.

Martin acknowledged that he may never become Taoiseach, but said he was more than just a placeholder as Fianna Fáil regroups from its crushing defeat.

And he said he believed every delegate attending today’s event in Dublin’s RDS understood the need for change within the party, which saw its representation plummet to just 20 seats in the Dáil.

“I may not be Taoiseach, but I’m not a caretaker,” Martin told RTÉ’s Saturday with Charlie Bird. He agreed that it may be a ‘ten-year project’ for Fianna Fáil to return to government.

Martin also refused to rule out entering a coalition with Fianna Fáil’s traditional enemy Sinn Féin. Asked whether he would countenance the alliance, he said: “I’m prepared to support any government that will do what’s right for the people of the country.”

However, he strongly criticised Sinn Féin’s record in government in the North. “It’s a party that’s focused on expanding its electoral base,” he said. “Their whole approach to government has been self-serving and cynical.”

Martin attributed Sinn Féin’s poll success – the party outperformed Fianna Fáil in a poll last weekend – to political opportunism. He said Fianna Fáil would reject such manoeuvres as it sought to rebuilt trust with the electorate.

“This can’t be short-termism,” he said. “We’re not going to transform the party by any opportunistic moves, or attacks on the Government.”

More: Martin promises “swift and comprehensive” action on Mahon findings>

In pictures: the 73rd Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis gets underway in Dublin>

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Michael Freeman

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