Micheál Martin rules out future coalition with either Fine Gael or Sinn Féin

Fianna Fáil leader says party should focus on own policies

Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fail. Photograph: Alan Betson

Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fail. Photograph: Alan Betson

Fri, Jun 13, 2014, 01:00

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin ruled out a possible future coalition with Fine Gael at private post-election meeting of his TDs and Senators yesterday and said he plans to highlight the policy differences between the two parties before the next general election.

Sources at the meeting said Mr Martin also ruled out a future alliance with Sinn Féin and insisted Fianna Fáil should focus on setting out its own distinctive policy platform.

The four-hour meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party was called to discuss the fallout from the local and European elections, which saw the party become the largest political force on local authorities but fail to win a seat in the European Parliament.

Positive meeting

While those present stressed that it was a positive meeting, Mr Martin was pressed on a possible future coalition by Senator Mary White who said the electorate is getting the impression Fianna Fáil would share power with Fine Gael.

In response to Ms White, Mr Martin said he would not do so and claimed there are too many policy differences with Fine Gael to allow the parties coalesce.

Fianna Fáil should start to strongly highlight those differences, he added.

“Micheál was making the point that we are not in the space yet to be talking about leading governments or going into governments,” one TD said. “There was a general feeling that Fine Gael should be ruled out, for absolute clarity. Micheál seemed agreeable to that. But we’re not getting carried away, we still only have 20 (Dáil) seats. We have a long way to go.”

The threat of Sinn Féin was also discussed, with Galway West TD Eamon O’Cúiv saying that party is following the model used by Fianna Fáil in the 1930s and 1940s to establish themselves as a national political force with strong discipline.

Adequate number

Senator Averil Power, Ms White and Sean Fleming criticised Fianna Fáil’s failure to ensure an adequate number of female candidates in the recent elections, but Mr Martin said he had done as much as he could.

Michael Moynihan, a TD for Cork North-West and the party’s director of elections for the local elections, was congratulated on the results. But there was criticism of the strategy pursued for the European contest.

In particular, there was criticism of the late selection process, which saw the slate of candidates only finalised around St Patrick’s Day. This was contrasted with Sinn Féin’s early selection, which allowed it to promote its candidates as far back as last year.

Midlands North-West candidate Senator Thomas Byrne, said the constituency should have been divided up between himself and former MEP Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher.