Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.10 12 May 2020


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Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin says he's 'not fazed' by the prospect of any leadership challenge if his party goes into government.

Detailed negotiations between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens on government formation got underway yesterday, and are set to continue through this week.

If a deal is reached, it's believed Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin could agree to a 'rotating Taoiseach' arrangement where the two party leaders would take turns in the role over the next government's term.

However, that has raised speculation that other members of Fianna Fáil could challenge Deputy Martin's leadership if they know they're guaranteed to become Taoiseach under the arrangement.

It has been reported that some of Deputy Martin's party colleagues have already discussed the idea of ousting him.

Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, the Fianna Fáil leader said the issue of who becomes Taoiseach will have to be dealt with by the party leaders - but their priority is to agree a programme for government first.

Martin 'not fazed' by prospect of any Fianna Fáil leadership challenge

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He said: “The programme for government is what will bind this government together - it stands or falls on the content and subject matter of the programme and its implementation."

Deputy Martin insisted that the potential for a leadership challenge is not part of his 'calculation' and that it doesn't faze him at all.

In terms of the negotiations themselves, Deputy Martin said he'd like to see 'light at the end of the tunnel' by the end of the month, although he stressed that each party involved will have to go through a ratification process with members if a deal is reached.

He said that while the COVID-19 crisis means his own party won't be able to hold an Ard Fheis to ratify a deal, they are 'determined and committed' to give members a vote - likely by post.

Climate targets

With the Green Party saying that a 7% in emissions is a red-line for them in negotiations, Deputy Martin said that's already something Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have agreed to as it's part of the country's international climate commitments.

He observed: "It can’t just be a Green Party issue - we all have to be committed to this.

"If COVID-19 is telling us anything it’s that where an existential crisis exists - and I think climate change is such an existential crisis to humankind - than we have to deal with it.

"We can’t wait for it to happen."

He said the current crisis could see a significant decrease in emissions this year, and that wider acceptance of remote working could have an impact in terms of traffic congestion and energy use.

Deputy Martin said other measures are likely to include the rewetting of bogs and reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

He explained: “I do think action has to speak louder than words in terms of the new government, if it’s formed.

"It has to really take actions that show not just intent but actual live commitment to this.

“The Green Party are adamant to us that they’re not anti rural Ireland - they hate that stereotype."

Main image: File photo of Micheál Martin. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

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