Tánaiste Joan Burton said any possible coalition with Fianna Fáil has been “absolutely” ruled out, thereby all but ending Micheál Martin’s hopes of being Taoiseach.
Mr Martin has ruled out going into power with Fine Gael and Sinn Féin so was always facing an uphill battle to be even in contention to be Taoiseach.
Speaking yesterday, Ms Burton said: “I don’t at this point in time, judging by the statement made by Fianna Fáil, believe that their heart really is in going into government.”
“I think Fianna Fáil’s difficulty is very simple. Fianna Fáil were the party which crashed the economy and I don’t know if they were asleep at the wheel when it happened but they were responsible for the disastrous crash that resulted in 330,000 people losing their jobs, which in turn put a huge burden on public finances in Ireland. As a number of their spokespeople have said from time to time, that they would like another spell in opposition, while I suppose they regroup and reconsider their policy for Ireland,” the Tánaiste said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Martin’s personalised attack on him yesterday was an “act of desperation”. Speaking in the Netherlands, Mr Kenny said the lead opposition party is now “convulsed” with attacking Fine Gael ahead of the general election. Mr Kenny, whose standing as leader was called into question by Mr Martin, said the Fianna Fáil leader’s attack was an attempt to distract people from the battle his own party is having with Sinn Féin.
“Micheál Martin is a direct link to the party that drove our country off an economic cliff,” said Mr Kenny. During a sometimes tetchy radio interview on RTÉ Radio 1, Mr Martin said the people no longer want Enda Kenny as Taoiseach, adding that it was a recurring theme coming up at the doors.
Mr Martin for the second day in a row, said Mr Kenny’s desire to move to a US-style tax system would cause enormous damage to public services. Mr Martin also told broadcaster Sean O’Rourke that his party can lead the next government, but struggled to outline a possible scenario which would deliver sufficient numbers in the Dáil to make that happen.
Recently, the party’s director of elections, Cork North-Central TD, Billy Kelleher, publicly said he expected Fianna Fáil to win about 40 seats on a good day — vastly short of being the biggest party. He also delivered a scathing verdict on Fine Gael and Enda Kenny. He said they were offering huge tax cuts which would devastate public services.
Already the health services are in chaos and there are not enough council workers to fight against problems like flooding but the Government is pledging American-style rates of tax, he said.
“When you have US tax rates, you have US inequality,” Mr Martin said. Mr Martin said Labour had failed to put the brakes on Fine Gael in government.
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