Micheál Martin denies re-shuffle means preparing for a general election

The Fianna Fáil leader says his party can "absolutely" win the next election

Micheál Martin denies re-shuffle means preparing for a general election

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin at the Church of the Most Sacred Heart Arbour Hill, Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin has denied his party re-shuffle means it is gearing up for a general election.

But he says the party can "absolutely" the election when it happens.

He says preparing for elections is an ongoing process, but the shake up was not inspired by an impending vote.

Most notable among the changes on Thursday was the promotion of Dara Calleary to deputy party leader.

Barry Cowen has been moved to public expenditure, with Darragh O'Brien taking the housing brief.

Stephen Donnelly has been appointed health spokesperson - meaning he will be taking on Simon Harris in both their Wicklow constituency and on the national stage - while Billy Kelleher moves to jobs.

Lisa Chambers becomes the party's new spokesperson on Brexit, taking over from Stephen Donnelly, while Jack Chambers will be spokesperson on defence.

But Mr Martin told Newstalk Breakfast he wanted to give different people new experiences.

"As far as we're concerned, preparing for elections is an ongoing process now within any political party.

"One is always from the date of the last election - in policy terms and in organisational terms and in candidate selection terms - one ids already focusing and thinking ahead.

"So that's not the context for this - I think the context is I wanted to give more experience to certain people, I wanted to give members on the frontbench new experiences and to bring up Jack Chambers as well into defence.

"We want to see out the confidence and supply agreement, we want to honour our agreements.

"I think the forthcoming budget will be a challenging one.

"As I have said repeatedly, we take this step by step and one stage at a time".

But Mr Martin added: "Absolutely we can win this next election.

"We're actually in a much better position going into the next election than we would have been going into the 2016 election".