Micheál Martin rules out future coalition with Sinn Féin

FF leader dismisses results of opinion poll which placed his party ahead of FG

Sinn Féin has said that if elected to government it would deliver over 100,000 public homes on public land and introduce laws to enable the Central Bank to reduce mortgage interest rates. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has reiterated his opposition to forming a coalition with Sinn Féin under any circumstances following the upcoming general election.

Speaking in Sligo on Monday, Mr Martin said he believed Sinn Féin’s elected representatives were not in control of the party, with decisions being made by “shadowy figures” and “unelected officials”.

Asked about Donegal TD Pat “The Cope” Gallagher’s recent comments in support of a coalition with Sinn Féin, Mr Martin said this was not party policy. He said he believed the vast majority of the parliamentary party supported his position on the issue.

“We will not be going into coalition with Sin Féin,” he said.

Mr Martin also told reporters he had not been aware that Fianna Fáil Waterford general election candidate Cllr Eddie Mulligan had been disqualified by the High Court from acting as a company director for seven years.

“We did not not know about that and we have asked him for a full explanation today,” said Mr Martin. He said the party had not been appraised of the situation but he refused to say whether it would now create a difficulty for Mr Mulligan’s candidature .

The Fianna Fáil leader also said he did not believe the weekend opinion poll, which suggested his party had surged ahead of Fine Gael. He said while he hoped the party would retain two seats in Sligo-Leitrim, it was a “very competitive” constituency.

“For years I have dismissed national polls — I do not think they reflect multi-seat PR system,” he told reporters. He said there would be individual battles in every constituency in the country with a long way to go before polling day. “There will be further polls and there will be different than the weekend poll I can assure you of that,” he said.

Retirement age

Addressing the pensions issue, he said the plan to extend the retirement age next year to 67 should be deferred until a complete review was carried out. Mr Martin said there should be no question of forcing people to work past 65 , but some people wanted the option.

He said people felt aggrieved that there was a mandatory retirement age “and in this day and age that is not consistent with the society has evolved”. The Fianna Fáil leader said his personal view was retirement should be graduated , allowing people to reduce their hours while still contributing their experience and their expertise.

He said a review should look at all the issues, including income to ensure people were not left without any income for a long period.

Mr Martin said his party would provide an ombudsman to regulate the beef industry . He said the competition authority was not doing its jobs in relation to the industry.

“The margins are simply not there for farmers,” he said. Other streams of income were needed for farmers, particularly in light of attempts to meet climate exchange goals, he added.

“The meat industry has too much control. We would provide for an ombudsman to prove compete transparency in term of how industry works between primary producer, processor and retailer,” he said. “It has been our view for a consistent length of time that the primary producer is not getting his or her fair share of the overall spread.”