Martin accuses Varadkar of being ‘immature’ and ‘self-absorbed’

Fianna Fáil leader reiterates belief that he will become taoiseach in future

Micheál Martin on the Late late Show: ‘I think I will be taoiseach and I’m going to give it my best shot’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Micheál Martin on the Late late Show: ‘I think I will be taoiseach and I’m going to give it my best shot’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin has accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of being “self-absorbed” and “immature” and has said that he will be taoiseach one day.

The confidence-and-supply agreement which underpins the current minority Government was agreed between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in 2016 and effectively ends after Budget 2019 this October, with a review process to follow thereafter.

The Taoiseach wrote to Mr Martin earlier this month seeking early talks on an extension of the agreement “in the interests of stability” during the Brexit negotiations.

Mr Martin said he would only enter talks towards the end of the year, as specified in the original agreement.

“The letter he sent asking us to sign on the dotted line and give us two more years . . . I thought it showed a lack of understanding and that it was a self-absorbed approach. He has to look at the agreement from a Fianna Fail perspective and from the people’s perspective,” he said.

“If you read the letter, it’s about what ‘I’ [Varadkar] have done and what we [Fine Gael] have done, there’s no acknowledgement that there are 4,000 people homeless or hundreds of children in emergency accommodation,” he said.

Speaking on the RTÉ Late Late show, Mr Martin said he had a good working relationship with the Taoiseach but he did not understand his approach to politics.

“He operates differently and is obsessed with media presentation and how he is perceived,” said Mr Martin.

“We agreed to meet in person to discuss the confidence-and-supply arrangement but then I see a front page saying ‘Leo tells Micheál he wants two more years’... I thought it was a bit immature in terms of approach and I think it was wrong as you have to build up trust with people,” he said.

Mr Martin said the idea of Fianna Fáil renewing the confidence-and-supply agreement “should not be taken for granted”.

“There can be no easy sign up to a renewal of confidence-and-supply without hard analysis of what it will take to get housing and health sorted,” he said.

No Sinn Féin coalition

In the wide-ranging interview, Mr Martin ruled out going into government with Sinn Féin and said he believes he will be taoiseach one day.

“I think I will be taoiseach and I’m going to give it my best shot . . . I’m going to continue in politics because I like it. The day I don’t is when I’ll leave,” he said.

Mr Martin said he believes Michael D Higgins is the best candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

“Michael D Higgins has done a very good job. I like Michael D I think he’s been a good president, and I want him to continue as president.

“At the time (2011), I knew Seán Gallagher and I voted for Seán Gallagher. But Michael D Higgins, I think, has proved himself and he has even done better than I would’ve thought. I think he really has graced the international stage with distinction and really gets the Irish people,” he said.