Micheal Martin: FF demands must be met by FG in the budget

Micheal Martin: FF demands must be met by FG in the budget

Update 4.20pm: Fianna Fáil will not call off its fragile deal with Fine Gael or seek to re-negotiate its details if Taoiseach Enda Kenny is replaced as leader of the Government party before the agreement runs out writes Political reporter Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Opposition leader Micheal Martin clarified the situation on the first day of his party's two-day pre-Dáil think-in at the Seven Oaks Hotel in Co Carlow, saying "personalities" will not dictate the support he is providing.

Asked about ongoing speculation Mr Kenny may face a heave within the coming months with Simon Coveney, Leo Varadkar, Frances Fitzgerald and Paschal Donohoe rumoured to be among his potential replacements, Mr Martin said it doesn't matter who is in charge of Fine Gael.

He said while there are "of course" concerns ability the fragility of the Government, people need to "cop-on" about scrapping the three-budget deal between the parties if Mr Kenny leaves and "stop talking in that vein".

"Our support is based on policies and based on issues, and the confidence and supply agreement is based on issues and about tackling the big social problems, and giving working people a decent break. Personalities cannot dictate that kind of support.

"Who leads Fine Gael is a matter for the Fine Gael party. We've done our negotiations," he said.

Earlier: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has placed fresh pressure on Fine Gael by insisting the upcoming budget must include space for his party's demands for increased pensioner and education spending next year writes Political reporter Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Despite acknowledging the "constraints" on Government in terms of how much is available to spend, the opposition leader warned his party "will not be making any apology" for prioritising the areas as budget negotiations gain momentum.

Speaking at the start of Fianna Fáil's two-day pre-Dáil return think-in at the Seven Oaks Hotel in Co Carlow, Mr Martin said while there is no reason for the budget to bring down the Government it must include several of his own party's key aims because of its confidence and supply deal with Fine Gael.

And while Taoiseach Enda Kenny has recently re-iterated he has just €1bn for spending and tax cuts next year, alongside Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar noting that any mooted €5 pension increase could eat up his entire 2017 funding, the Fianna Fáil leader warned his party's priorities must be included.

"There will have to be space in terms of the priorities we have prioritised in the confidence and supply agreement," he said.

"We acknowledge the constraints of the budget and in terms of what's available. But I don't think elderly people were spared [by the recession].

"The most familiar refrain on the doorstep over the last years was pensioners listing off a succession of measures on their net take home pay - the prescription charge, the ending of the living alone allowance, the property tax on pensioners living alone and widowers, and many, many more.

"They [pensioners] really felt it so they do need a break, pensioners need a break. So we don't make any apology in prioritising the need of pensioners in the forthcoming budget.

"There will be constraints, but education as well. That was critical in our industry success and critical in our economy success and I think we need a stronger vision in relation to our vision for education in the future, we're making it very clear that the budget.

"We're not going to write the budget today, but we're going to focus in on low and middle income groups and hope they get a break in the budget," he said.

In recent weeks Mr Kenny, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe have warned their own cabinet colleagues in recent weeks that Government has just €1bn available for tax cuts and spending next year.

However, Fianna Fáil social protection spokesperson Willie O Dea has repeatedly called for a €5 pensions increase during the same period, despite his Government counterpart Mr Varadkar warning such a move would use up his entire 2017 budget

The Government is also currently examining the outcome of an independent report by Peter Cassells on how to fund chronic budget shortfalls in third level education, with the possibility of fees among the recommendations made.

Responding to the issues yesterday, Mr Martin did not give a specific figure for how much he wants pensions to rise by and said his party is "not supporting the re-introduction of third level fees" but did not clarify how education budget increases will occur.

The opposition leader said his party has "costed almost every single item" in its pre-election manifesto and is "now going through an exercise in what is possible this year" which Fine Gael ministers will need to consider.

In a clear underlining of his belief Fianna Fáil's priorities must be included in the upcoming budget, when asked if his party will be "given sight" of next year's plan before it is published in three weeks' time he added:

"Within the agreement there is a clear commitment for no surprises, and you can take what you want from that."


More in this Section

Fine Gael sees popularity boost in latest pollFine Gael sees popularity boost in latest poll

Dooley apologises as footage emerges of him with Collins in Dáil ahead of voteDooley apologises as footage emerges of him with Collins in Dáil ahead of vote

President Higgins and Defence Minister evacuated from hotel in Lebanese capitalPresident Higgins and Defence Minister evacuated from hotel in Lebanese capital

Gardaí appeal for help in search for missing man in GalwayGardaí appeal for help in search for missing man in Galway


Lifestyle

These are the nail hues to choose this season, says Katie Wright.Perfectly polished: 5 autumn/winter nail trends you’ll actually want to wear

This early 19th-century table is one of a number of Irish lots at Sotheby’s Style, Furniture and Ceramics sale in New York on Thursday (October 24).Irish lots poised to add bite to Big Apple sale

Something for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon, says Des O’SullivanSomething for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon

Des O’Sullivan gives a preview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in DublinPreview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner