Taoiseach did not contact me, Martin tells Dáil

Enda Kenny says he had invited Fianna Fáil leader to have ‘a conversation’ with him

 Independent TD Ruth Coppinger: “The two parties are doing their best to minimise the [water charges] issue and bat it out of the way.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Independent TD Ruth Coppinger: “The two parties are doing their best to minimise the [water charges] issue and bat it out of the way.” Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin rejected claims by Enda Kenny in the Dail yestreday afternoon that the acting Taoiseach had already invited him to talks.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil he had invited Mr Martin to have “a conversation” later last night, but Mr Martin insisted there had been “no contact at all”, that he had read yesterday morning that there would be a meeting last night, which subsequently took place.

He warned the Taoiseach that the “briefings” would have to stop if there was any reasonable prospect of moving forward.

Meanwhile, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald told the House there should be a government in “ days, rather than weeks” with the right approach of putting country before party.

“People want to see a stable government shortly and they do not want this process dragged out for weeks on end,” she said.

All three were speaking in a debate after the votes on the nomination for taoiseach which Mr Kenny lost 81-51. Mr Martin lost the vote by 95-43.

Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit deputy Ruth Coppinger, the first woman to be nominated as taoiseach in the history of the Dáil, lost by 109 votes to 10.

Mr Kenny received the support of just one Independent – Michael Lowry – along with the votes of all 50 Fine Gael TDs. Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the AAA-PBP, Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, the four Independents4Change and Independents Thomas Pringle, Séamus Healy and Catherine Connolly voted against Mr Kenny.

Abstained

The Labour Party, Social Democrats, Green Party, the group of five rural TDs, the Independent Alliance, and Independents Katherine Zappone and Maureen O’Sullivan abstained.

Mr Martin received the 43 Fianna Fáil votes but no other support. The same parties and TDs who opposed Mr Kenny for taoiseach also voted against Mr Martin, who had additional opposition from all seven Labour TDs. The same groups and TDs abstained.

Ms Coppinger had six AAA-PBP votes and the support of Independents Catherine Connolly, Tommy Broughan, Thomas Pringle and Séamus Healy. In her vote, 39 TDs abstained.

In the debate, Mr Kenny said he had invited Mr Martin for “a conversation” and “I expect Deputy Martin will oblige in that regard, as to how we might have an initial discussion”.

Relationship of trust

Mr Kenny said it was not just about numbers; it was also about stability and building a relationship of trust.

However, the Fianna Fáil leader said at that time “there was no contact at all”. Mr Martin said the electorate had rejected the “constant hype and spin” and there had been endless unattributed comment, which he warned the Taoiseach “has to stop”.

He told Mr Kenny: “I would even say Taoiseach, that in terms of meeting I have no difficulty in meeting you at all but I don’t have to read about it at seven in the morning that apparently I’m meeting you at 7pm.

“There was no contact at all and that’s the kind of endless spinning and manoeuvring that we could do without.”

He warned that “it would be important for the conduct of discussions into the future that . . . the briefings and manipulation of opinion has to stop if there’s to be any reasonable prospect of moving things forward.”

Ms Coppinger said it was amazing Mr Kenny nor Mr Martin had mentioned the water charges. They “are doing their best to minimise the issue and bat it out of the way.”