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New FF leader Micheál Martin calls for "in-depth" election debates

Martin wants to debate Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore at the start and end of the election campaign, and says it will be the toughest campaign his party ever faced.

Image: Stephen Kilkenny

IN HIS FIRST PUBLIC ADDRESS as leader of Fianna Fáil, TD Micheál Martin has challenged Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore to two serious and in-depth election debates.

Martin acknowledged that Fianna Fáil was facing into its toughest election campaign since the foundation of the party.

Praising his competitors for the leadership post, Martin said they had engaged in a positive campaign.

He denied making any promises of front bench positions to his supporters within the party. He said that the “old ways” of the party would no longer have a role and the idea of promising jobs for friends will not assist the party and will not advance the party.

Perhaps distancing himself from previous political dynasties in the party, Martin said he was the first public representative in his family, although that line did not appear in the copy of his speech released by the party later.

Martin said his father had been a bus driver and had helped establish a union, which led Martin to take an interest in politics.

The campaign

Turning to the election campaign, the new party leader said there was no credible route forward for the country without tackling fiscal deficit. He said the issues of the fiscal deficit, job creation and the systemic failings in the political and administrative system which led to our economic problems were the main issues in this election campaign.

A proper, serious debate is needed in this election on the substance of the issues and how each party intends to deal with those issues, he said this evening.

Martin also indicated that the party would be changing its approach to the media, and he will be looking at ways to increase the participation of younger members and women.

Fianna Fáil would prefer a four-week election campaign, according to Martin, and he would be travelling the length and breadth of the country to meet with people and develop the party’s policies.

Martin said it was his ambition to become Taoiseach with Fianna Fáil. He will appoint his deputy leader, a new front bench and a director of election in the coming days.

Read: Micheál Martin elected Fianna Fáil leader >

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