Micheál Martin rules out coalition with ‘cult-like’ Sinn Féin

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has insisted his party will not go into government with Sinn Féin, who he said were “strong apologists” for the IRA and “very cult-like”.

In a fresh attack on Sinn Féin, Mr Martin’s stance will again raise questions about how Fianna Fáil would intend to reach sufficient numbers to seize power and return to government.

The Cork South Central TD’s refusal to do a deal with Gerry Adam’s party also comes as a new poll shows support for Fianna Fáil has plummeted and dropped to eight points now behind Fine Gael.

On Newstalk, Mr Martin said: “Sinn Féin is autocratic, it is very one voice, one party, it is very cult-like and individuals in Sinn Féin don’t have the freedom to articulate as much as people in my party do.”

While he admitted there were differences of opinion in his party on working with Sinn Féin, he added: “The majority are very clear, we will not being going into government with Sinn Féin.”

He said it was only two years ago that the PSNI had said the IRA still controlled Sinn Féin.

“It is a very controlling organisation, they are still very strong apologists for the IRA and the most heinous crimes of the IRA,” he said.

Mr Martin also criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who he claimed was more focused on communications than about getting things done.

However, he also admitted that Fianna Fáil had not been forgiven by the public after being in power during the financial crash

“We have a long way to go, Fianna Fáil and other political parties, to ensure we have the trust with voters,” said Mr Martin.

Fianna Fáil is set to hold its pre-Dáil conference today in Longford. TDs expect it will be a low-key affair compared to other party think-ins.

Members will discuss housing, the economy, and Brexit , while Mr Martin will also deliver a speech in the evening.

Fine Gael has now opened an eight-point lead over Fianna Fáil in the latest Sunday Times/Behaviour and Attitudes poll.

It shows Fine Gael up four to 33%, and Fianna Fáil down five to 25%.

Elsewhere, Sinn Féin is up one to 19%, Independents up one to 10%, Labour remain at 5%, the Greens Party are unchanged at 2%, and the Social Democrats remain at 1%.

Meanwhile, Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt will also make a special speech on Britain’s EU exit strategy in the Dáil chamber when he visits Leinster House later this week.

The European Parliament Brexit negotiator will join the ranks of former world leaders who have spoken in the chamber when he addresses a joint meeting of three Oireachtas Committees.

The planned address by Mr Verhofstadt comes after Mr Varadkar last week confirmed that Ireland was unlikely to agree to allow Britain to enter the next phase of negotiations with the EU over Brexit.

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