Fianna Fáil leader accuses Fine Gael of Brexit stroke
Micheál Martin accuses Taoiseach of making ‘election platforming speech’ at party Ardfheis
Mr Martin was speaking to reporters ahead ahead of the Fianna Fáil presidential dinner in Dublin on Saturday night. Photograph: The Irish Times
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has accused Fine Gael of trying to pull off an electoral stroke and call a general election on the back of the draft Brexit deal.
Mr Martin said the first item on the Cabinet agenda last Wednesday was a discussion about a general election and not about the draft Brexit agreement.
He also accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of making an “election platforming speech” at the party’s Ardfheis in Dublin this evening.
He said Mr Varadkar’s promise of changing the thresholds for the higher rate of tax over the next few years was reminiscent of its promise to abolish the Universal Social Charge, which never happened.
“The [Taoiseach’s promise] could be anything from €1.6. billion to €4.5 billion,” he said. “That is form. Remember the last general election and the big promise on USC. It abandoned it as soon as it got back into Government.”
Mr Martin was speaking ahead of the Fianna Fáil presidential dinner in Dublin on Saturday night.
He also criticised the “juvenile behaviour” of Fine Gael Ministers who had criticised Fianna Fáil for dragging its heels during the review of the confidence and supply deal.
Alluding he referred to as electioneering by Fine Gael, he said: “I am saying to Fine Gael please don’t give us any lectures about responsible politics or the need for stability.”
Referring to the talk of the election at the Cabinet meeting, he said: “That is what Government Ministers were at last Wednesday, which tells its own story about who wants to call a general election and create instability,” he said.
Confidence and supply
Later, in a speech at that dinner that was, at times, highly critical of the Government, he defended the Fianna Fáil approach to confidence and supply talks.
“In entering this review we have ignored the spinning and attempts to introduce preconditions. We have insisted on a substantive review of the current state of priority issues and plans for the future.
“Let no one be fooled into thinking that by being constructive we are being complacent. The opposite is true.”
He also criticised the housing and homelessness policies of the Government. He said despite the Taoiseach’s comments last Christmas that the “plan is working”, there were 800 more homeless children now than on the day the Taoiseach assumed his position.
“There is a terrible inertia at the heart of Government on this issue,” he claimed.
He also said the Taoiseach was assuming the role of an “outside commentator” on health. And Mr Martin accused him of making an outrageous attack on medical staff.