Martin: FG 'more interested in sound bites' than solving health crisis

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted to him that he wasn’t confident of the vote of some members of Fine Gael.

Martin: FG 'more interested in sound bites' than solving health crisis

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted to him that he wasn’t confident of the vote of some members of Fine Gael, such as Maria Bailey, in the event of a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Simon Harris.

Losing three TDs in recent times had really put the Taoiseach in some difficulty Mr Martin told RTÉ radio’s Today with Séan O’Rourke show.

“He said to us that he wasn’t sure of some of his own people.”

Mr Martin said that in the last four years Fianna Fáil had honoured the Confidence and Supply Agreement and that “no one can question Fianna Fáil’s bona fides”.

The current government was more concerned with its own image and there was no doubt that it had failed on health and housing, he said.

“In this election we’re saying we need a change in government.”

In the last nine years Fianna Fáil had supported the fiscal treaty and had been responsible and had facilitated responsible budgeting.

“We didn’t prevent them (the government) from delivering on health and housing.”

Mr Martin defended his own and his party’s record in health and said that “by any metric” Fine Gael had failed.

James Reilly “did damage” when he got rid of the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

“Simon Harris hasn’t delivered 1,000 beds, the real issue here is three Ministers – James Reilly, Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris – were more interested in sound bites than in getting out of the health crisis.

“Leo Varadkar’s performance in health was very poor, he couldn’t wait to get out.”

Mr Martin said that Fine Gael had presided over the escalating cost of the children’s hospital from €0.5bn to €2bn.

Seven years ago Fine Gael said the bad times are over.

Since then Fianna Fáil had “called them out” over every Budget which did not meet reality and required a surplus.

The core of the trolley crisis was the lack of beds because of delayed discharges. Fine Gael should have addressed that, he said.

The government had also failed to provide affordable housing.

“Not one affordable house was facilitated by this government. I believe that’s indicative of their ability to get anything done. Their inability to get on top of it.”

Fianna Fáil in the sixties, seventies and eighties had built social housing.

“We built housing, I have no problem building council housing estates, I don’t hold my nose at that like Fine Gael.”

Mr Martin said he believed Fianna Fáil is stronger now than going into the 2016 general election.

“It’s not about Micheál Martin, it’s about issues like health and housing. I don’t have much patience or tolerance for who’s in and who’s out.

“We’re not going to fail in this election. We’re going to win more seats. It’s about a new government which can bring a new focus to health and housing.

“I’m pushing myself and the party to increase our number of seats.”

He said that he would be prepared to talk to other parties to form a government.

“Our focus is on bringing about a change of government.”

When asked about the possibility of forming a government with Sinn Féin, Mr Martin replied: “Let me make it clear. I don’t trust Sinn Féin.”

He said he had a problem with people outside the elected representatives contributing to what happens.

“You don’t get over that.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that she has made it clear that after the next election she will talk to and listen to everybody “because that's what adults do.”

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Séan O’Rourke show, she said she is not surprised that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin “do not want Sinn Féin about the place” because “they know full well that we will bring about change.”

Ms McDonald added that if Sinn Féin was capable of governing with the DUP in the north, then they would be capable of governing with parties in the south.

“If Sinn Féin can govern in partnership with the DUP - people we have profound political differences with - how on earth is it logical to then say that Sinn Féin isn't good enough to be in government in the south?”

Ms McDonald said that if Sinn Féin can “land at a space where we have a republican programme for government” then Sinn Féin will “be in the business of entering government.”

Irish reunification “is on its way" and whoever becomes Taoiseach after the election must start planning for that, she added.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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