FF will change behaviour on fundraising, says Martin

 

FIANNA FÁIL would be putting “clear blue water” between itself and the ethical standards portrayed by some of its members in the past, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said.

Mr Martin said he agreed with criticisms of the party in a contribution to the MacGill Summer School earlier this week by Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power.

“I think Averil is reflecting the anger that’s there amongst the members of the party across the country,” he told reporters.

He had visited two dozen constituencies since becoming leader: “That anger is there on the ground in terms of past behaviour by some members of the party and particularly in relation to the abuse of fundraising.

“Into the future there will have to be clear blue water in terms of behaviour, between what happened in the past and in terms of how fundraising is organised,” he said.

This was why Fianna Fáil in Opposition introduced legislation recently to ban corporate donations.

“Within the party we are developing a more self-reliant and independent means of raising funds, independent of any vested interest,” he said.

These standards applied to other parties as well: “Fianna Fáil is not the only political party that has engaged in corporate fundraising.”

He said he had not been consulted by MsPower before she told the MacGill school last Monday that: “While breaches of ethical standards occurred in almost all parties, we must recognise that Fianna Fáil, more than any other party, has been associated with the worst of those breaches.”

In a speech to the MacGill school last night, the Fianna Fáil leader poured scorn on what he saw as the Government’s poor record on reform since it took office.

Claiming that, despite all the rhetoric, what had taken place so far was change but not real reform, he added: “If the programme of reform continues as it has begun the word ‘reform’ will be reduced to the level of Orwellian newspeak.”

Mr Martin said: “The rhetoric of reform is now embedded in nearly every Government press release. Ministerial speeches are full of praise for reforms both planned and implemented.”

He pointed out that: “Previously opposition parties held posts in committees overseeing six government departments – today that number is zero.

“So when the details of legislation, spending, departmental plans and the operation of State agencies are being discussed by committee, the agenda will be more completely in the hands of government than before.

“This is certainly change, but it’s not reform.” He said it was “a very fitting, if ironic” end to the term last week that a package of changes hailed as making the Dáil more relevant was “pushed through with almost no notice”.