Fine Gael deal puts Fianna Fáil in ‘straitjacket’, says TD

Martin has given Government ‘blank cheque’ by extending agreement, says McGuinness

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has said the extension of the confidence and supply agreement has put his party in a ‘straitjacket’. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has said the extension of the confidence and supply agreement has put his party in a ‘straitjacket’. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The extension of the confidence and supply agreement which underpins the Fine Gael-led minority government puts Fianna Fáil in a “straitjacket”, one of the party’s backbench TDs has said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin on Wednesday announced he would extend the deal for the duration of 2019 because of continuing Brexit uncertainty. He said the next election was likely to take place in spring 2020.

“This deal puts us in a straitjacket, it is not the right kind of politics,” John McGuinness said yesterday.

“People will feel abandoned by the party. We won’t get the opportunity to raise issues of concern,” he said.

“This could have been done differently,” he told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.

Mr McGuinness said his party’s leader had “given the Government a blank cheque. He’s allowed the Government to dictate terms. There isn’t even a document.”

The extension of the agreement will hinder candidates in local elections next year, he said, “as they will be seen to be propping up Fine Gael. ”

Mr McGuinness said the excuse of Brexit uncertainty, “does not wash” with him, adding that he wants to be able “to argue from the back benches on all issues.”

He defended a tweet he sent quoting a party member who described the deal as the “cowardice and surrender agreement”.

“We are surrendering to that Government,” he said.

He said he would not resign from the party when it was suggested to him that resigning would be the honourable thing to do.

His party colleague, deputy party leader Dara Calleary, said that Mr Martin’s decision had been made in the national interest at a time that requires stability because of the possible consequences of Brexit.

“There’s no blank cheque. There will be political stability here unlike across the water,” said Mr Calleary.

On the same programme Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan said “we’re in unprecedented times. No one knows the next twist or turn in the road. It’s very important that we give the country a sense of security.”

He said no one had won the last election and the only party who did not want to be in Government was Sinn Féin.

He said: “What Micheál Martin has done is the right thing.”

Earlier in week, Fianna Fáil Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry forwarded a text to some of his colleagues which he had already sent to Mr Martin. He is understood to have sent the text to Mr Martin after the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday evening, but before the party leader’s announcement on Thursday.

In the text, Mr MacSharry said: “I implore you not to renew C&S. We will be irrelevant.

“An extension of even a day is an endorsement of the last three years with all its flaws and scandals. We cannot propose any real policy different to FG for fear of precipitating a crisis and or election...the common perception now is there is no tangible difference between us. “We have morphed into FG in the public conscience.”