FF will not go into Government with SF ‘under any circumstances’

Kenny, Burton, Martin and Adams took part in four-way debate

Speaking during TV3’s leader debate, Micheál Martin said Fianna Fáil will not go into Government with Sinn Féin “under any circumstances”. Video: TV3


Micheál Martin has said Fianna Fáil will not go into Government with Sinn Féin “under any circumstances”. Mr Martin said he also will not go into Coalition with Fine Gael.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams called Fianna Fáil’s stance as a “mistake”.

He said this position made Fianna Fáil irrelevant in the general election and said Sinn Féin would enter Government as the largest party.

Speaking during TV3’s leader debate on Thursday night, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Joan Burton said their proposition to the electorate was to re-elect the current Government.

Mr Adams has said the party’s proposals to abolish the Special Criminal Court is one they have long held and insisted it was a core democratic principle.

He insisted he would not back away from the position despite the opposition parties attempt to seize upon in for a cheap shot. “I am not going to change my position because it is the popular thing to do.”

Mr Adams said jurors and witnesses are being intimidated but advances in technology should allow for the court to be abolished.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said she did not know what planet Mr Adams was on and it was an appalling promise by Mr Adams.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Fine Gael and Labour would establish a second Special Criminal Court if re-elected to Government. The Taoiseach said he remembered the people who murdered of Garda Jerry McCabe and those who greeted them on his release from prison.

Micheál Martin said the proposal by Sinn Féin was the height of hypocrisy when it “knew and oversaw” kangaroo courts for many years. We will not go into Government with Sinn Féin for these exact reasons.”

Mr Kenny said Fine Gael has legislated to allow for terminations when a mother’s life is at risk.

He said there were various views within the party on whether abortion legislation should be further changed, but a considered debate was now required.

The Fianna Fail leader said the question of repealing the eighth amendment was too simplistic.

Mr Martin has claimed the Government has not been able to face up to its performance in the Department of Health.

He said the Taoiseach has a brass neck to claim success in the area of health, claiming its policies and performance have been a disgrace.

The Fianna Fáil leader said Mr Kenny made a promise to end the scandal of patients lying on trolleys but has failed to do so.

Mr Martin said the Government is disconnected and is choosing to ignore problems until they become crises.

The Taoiseach said the Government has made progress in the area of health but admitted it has not been enough. He claimed waiting lists have been reduced, but a great deal of work has still to be done.

Mr Kenny said he regretted that he has not been able to live up to his 2011 election promise in the past five years.

The Taoiseach said the issue of the discretionary medical card is one “we could have done without”. Mr Kenny said he was glad the problem, which saw thousands of people have their cards taken from them, was rectified.

Mr Kenny has said the country cannot risk going back to the party who wrecked the economy, or to parties who could risk it in the future. He said the electorate faces one question on election day and that is, who can it trust to run the country.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said Labour was central to providing a balanced and stable Government.

She insisted the plan by the coalition government is working and the country cannot take a gamble on an uncertain future.

Mr Martin said the current Government cannot keep going the way it is.

He said the coalition has stumbled from crisis to crisis and the electorate does not have to accept nothing can change.

He said: “We cannot risk the continued failure.”

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the first thing the party would do in Government is abolish the water charges and the property tax.

Mr Kenny, Ms Burton, Mr Martin and Mr Adams are taking part in a four-way contest moderated by Pat Kenny and Colette Fitzpatrick.

The Irish Times are covering the programme with a live blog. Political correspondent Fiach Kelly and political reporter Sarah Bardon are contributing to the blog, along with reporter Dan Griffin.

Mr Kenny also said Sinn Féin’s proposals will drive thousands of the country and could “ruin and wreck the economy”.

The Taoiseach said Fianna Fáil’s policies forced 75,000 to emigrate, claiming Fine Gael’s plan will bring those people home.

Asked about a poll that suggests she could lose her seat, Ms Burton said she has faced many difficult elections and insisted voters will not make up their mind until the last few days.

The leader of the Labour party said she is mystified by the Sinn Féin tax proposals. She said the party is only promising to abolish the USC on incomes up to €19,752, meaning young and low and middle income earners will still pay the levy.

In response, Mr Adams said nobody believed Fine Gael and Labour after they broke a series of promises when elected to Government.

Mr Kenny said the numbers of children living in emergency accommodation is not acceptable. However, the Taoiseach said Sinn Féin had all the answers but none of its figures added up. Mr Martin said Mr Kenny had taken his eye of the ball in the area of housing and allowed a problem to become a crisis.

Full coverage of the election is available at irishtimes.com/election-2016.