Latest: Govt hits out at 'Mystic Micheál' Martin's comments

Latest: Govt hits out at 'Mystic Micheál' Martin's comments

By Elaine Loughlin, Political Correspondent

Update 1.38pm: The Government has attacked "mystic" Micheál Martin claiming he can read the minds of Fine Gael Ministers but refuses to provide any clarity on confidence and supply himself.

Both Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris hit out at the Fianna Fáil leader calling on him to "get on with it" and agree to a new deal to keep the Government in place until the summer of 2020.

Their criticism came after Mr Martin took a swipe at Fine Gael, claiming that the Taoiseach is coming under pressure from some of his ministers to call a General Election.

timg]MichealMartinCloseUp_large.jpg[/timg]

"The view is that some of his ministers have been pushing him to angle for an election for the last three of four months. The word is that Simon Harris wants to get out of Health, Eoghan Murphy wants to get out of Housing because they are not making any progress there.

"The only people who have introduced an aura of instability about the Government is the Taoiseach and his Ministers," Mr Martin told RTE's Sean O'Rourke programme.

He accused Fine Gael of having a "self absorbed" and "juvenile" approach to talks which is "beggars belief".

Responding, Mr Varadkar said his political opponent "seems to know the mind of Minister Murphy and Minister Harris but does anyone know his mind?"

"Rather than reading the minds of Minister Murphy and Minister Harris perhaps he might share with us his own mind and his own thought on this," said Mr Varadkar.

Mr Harris added that is is now "time to actually get on with it and extend confidence and supply so we can bring political certainty to Ireland".

Taking aim at Mr Martin, the Minister said:

I didn't hear Mystic Micheál's comments but just to be very clear his party actually ran out of the Department of Health when he was Minister for Health, left Mary Harney sitting in the Department of Health and the Fianna Fáil mantra was 'don't touch it, don't come anywhere near it'.

Earlier: Fine Gael's 'megaphone diplomacy' does not work with Fianna Fáil, Martin says

Update 11.18am: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin says that Fine Gael needs to learn that megaphone diplomacy “does not work with Micheál Martin and with Fianna Fáil.”

Making disparaging comments in public is not going to set the pace, he told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show when asked about Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s comments at the weekend.

Mr Varadkar had criticised Fianna Fáil for its approach to the confidence and supply review, accusing the main Opposition party of dragging the talks out.

“It was a silly comment,” said Mr Martin. “Nothing more, nothing less. There was not a lot of substance. It is straying away from the substantive issue.”

The Fianna Fáil leader said that he had written to the Taoiseach a month ago (and has not yet had a response), urging Mr Varadkar to agree not to bring down the government until a Brexit deal has been agreed.

“It was a genuine and generous offer.”

However, he felt that Fine Gael views such offers through their own “self-absorbed” prism. “We’re giving the government stability to negotiate Brexit and support for three Budgets. Contrast that with the mayhem across the water.

Fine Gael thinks we should sign on the dotted line, that everything is going swimmingly. It’s not.

Mr Martin said there is no danger to the government. The only people who are talking about a threat are the Taoiseach and some of his Ministers. “It’s juvenile.”

He said that “the word is out” that both Simon Harris and Eoghan Murphy want to leave their respective portfolios because they are not happy with progress.

Mr Martin acknowledged that some members of his party are impatient about the discussions with Fine Gael and want more emphasis on issues such as housing and health. “That’s a healthy thing.”

The Taoiseach was more concerned about tax cuts than issues such a health, housing or climate change. He had not made them a priority in his speech at the ard fheis, added Mr Martin.

Prior to the last general election Enda Kenny had made promises about a €4billion tax package (USC), “but as soon as the election was over, it was abandoned. There should be a health warning about any Fine Gael promises.

“Fine Gael are interested in only one thing and that’s reducing tax. There is no magic pot that they can magic €3bn out of.”

Mr Martin accused the Taoiseach of attacking everyone’s policies. “You have to have a healthy scepticism about Fine Gael policies.

“We’re interested in getting things done. The manner in which Fine Gael is approaching these talks (confidence and supply agreement renegotiation) leaves a lot to be desired. This megaphone diplomacy.”

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