Martin claims Fianna Fáil have blocked "increasingly right wing" government agenda

The Fianna Fáil leader also lashed out at the British government's "shambolic" and "arrogant" plans for Brexit

Martin claims Fianna Fáil have blocked "increasingly right wing" government agenda

Leader of Fianna Fail Michael Martin in Dublin | Image: Rollingnews.ie

The Fianna Fáil leader has launched a stinging attack on both the Irish and British governments during a speech at his party’s annual Wolfe Tone commemoration.

Micheál Martin accused the government of lacking the “urgency or ambition” to tackle the problems facing the country.

He also claimed his party has succeeded in stopping “many of the most damaging” Fine Gael policies since agreeing to facilitate a minority government led by Enda Kenny. 

“Their increasingly right-wing agenda and focus on tax cuts weighted to help the wealthiest has been blocked,” he said. 

“Some of the worst damage which their policies caused in the last five years has begun to be unwound.”

Deputy Martin said there is “no doubt” the minority government is currently “drifting.”

“In area after area it is failing to tackle problems with the urgency or ambition which they need,” he said.

“This has nothing to do with them being in the minority.  Ministers have absolute freedom to use the immense resources available to them to set out concrete strategies for the future.  

“Instead they are constantly reactive and failing to engage with the issues.”

Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty said the Irish people know better than to “swallow Fianna Fáil’s twisted version of reality.”

The Fine Gael TD for Meath East said her party “will not apologise for seeking to reduce taxes to give workers a break and make our economy more competitive.”

She said any claim that Fianna Fáil has succeeded in blocking Fine Gael policy is “simply not true and just the latest example of Deputy Martin’s attempt to re-write history and twist reality.”

“The truth is that it does not have to be either tax cuts or public spending; we can do both, but only thanks to Fine Gael’s careful economic management of recent years, and the work of the Irish people,” she said.

“The reality is that we could do neither if Fianna Fáil and Micheál Martin had been allowed to keep hold of the reins and continue their destruction of our economy.”

Brexit

Deputy Martin also used his speech to lash out at the British government, calling the preparations for Brexit “little short of shambolic:”

“After four months they have yet to say what they are looking for - other than to keep all the good bits, dump everything they don’t like, make their own rules and pay for nothing,” he said.

“The cost of Brexit will show itself over time and will push Britain to the margins of international affairs.”

He said Brexit poses a "deep and rising threat" to Ireland and said the country must “stand by the people of Northern Ireland, and never fail to speak up for their interests.”

“Communities on the border are hurting and are looking ahead to an uncertain future – which is the very thing which undermines investment and employment,” he said.

 “We can’t wait for another two and a half years before businesses and communities receive support to either replace lost markets or to be competitive in spite of the massive fall in sterling.”

“We need Europe to stand by us.  We need the Union to allow and to support direct aid to stop us from suffering serious damage from Britain’s decision to take its own route.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams welcomed Deputy Martin’s remarks on Brexit but said it is “one thing to lambast the British Government - even though that is justifiable - the main focus has to be on what the Irish Government is doing.”

"The Taoiseach has yet to clarify claims made by the British Secretary of State that measures have been agreed to put immigration controls at Irish ports and airports - that is totally unacceptable,” he said.

"The Government's focus - and the focus of all political parties - has got to be an all-Ireland one and our vision shouldn't be limited to the interests of the southern State.

“The northern vote must be recognised, promoted and defended - and that aim has to be to keep the entirety of the island of Ireland in the EU."