Martin faces down Fianna Fáil rebels in bid to lead country

Fianna Fáil leader and Taoiseach-in-waiting Micheál Martin has faced down unrest in his party over going into power with Fine Gael and the Greens, insisting “the country needs a government now”.
Martin faces down Fianna Fáil rebels in bid to lead country
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is to become taoiseach later this month, with Leo Varadkar to become tánaiste.

Additional reporting: Juno McEnroe, Aoife Moore, Paul Hosford

Fianna Fáil leader and Taoiseach-in-waiting Micheál Martin has faced down unrest in his party over going into power with Fine Gael and the Greens, insisting “the country needs a government now”.

Following an agreement on a 126-page Programme for Government, Mr Martin is set to become Taoiseach later this month, with Leo Varadkar set to become Tánaiste.

The positions will then be rotated in December 2022.

Mr Martin made his comments as his former deputy leader Eamon O Cuiv and a group of 50 councillors came out in opposition to the deal, saying 1,000 party members share their view.

Mr O Cuiv said that anyone who cares about the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the islands should vote against the programme for government agreed between his party, Fine Gael and the Green Party.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Martin said: “My core message to members is that Fianna Fáil is at its best in government. But overall, the message to the party is there is a necessity to form a government with a sizeable majority. We have to put the country first.”

When asked about becoming the first Cork Taoiseach since Jack Lynch if the parties approve the deal, Mr Martin said: “I am hopeful that will materialise. Jack Lynch is a boyhood hero.”

The group of councillors say there are supported by 1,000 Fianna Fáil members who have launched a campaigning group seeking to defeat the Programme for Government.

“We have feared since the start of this process that a continuation of status quo politics is acceptable to those negotiating this agreement on our behalf. The publication of the PfG confirms these fears,” a statement released by the group stated.

    Among the key measures agreed by the parties are:
  • A deferral of the planned increase the state pension age to 67 deferred pending the outcome of a commission to examine the issue;
  • No increase in income tax or the Universal Social Charge;
  • A commitment to cut carbon emissions by 7% annually over the five years of the government and also a ban on the importation of gas extracted by fracking.

Fianna Fáil's parliamentary party approved the programme for government, with Mr Martin saying he now hoped the party's membership would follow suit.

At Fine Gael’s parliamentary party meeting last night, outgoing Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring said he would “worry about rural Ireland” with the Greens in government. “I don’t know where we are going to get all the money to implement the Greens policy.”

He queried what will happen with the banning of gas exploration. But the party endorsed the deal.

The Green Party parliamentary members voted 9 in favour with 3 abstentions to take the programme for government document to a membership vote.

Crucially, deputy leader Catherine Martin backed the proposal.

Those to abstain were Neasa Hourigan, Francis Noel Duffy and Patrick Costello, all who are known to be supporters of Ms Martin.

As part of the Programme for Government agreement, Mr Varadkar will get a beefed-up role as Tánaiste in the new coalition while an inner circle of leaders will defuse rows during its five-year term.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will each have six ministers at Cabinet, the Greens get three there will also be only two super junior ministers

“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will have an equal number of Government Ministers, six, and the Green Party will appoint three. The Chief Whip shall sit at Cabinet as shall two other Ministers of State,” the document states.

The result of the vote on the programme for government by the members of Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and Fine Gael will be announced on Friday 26 June, it has been confirmed.

If passed that would mean that the Taoiseach would be elected on either Saturday 27 June or Monday 29 June in the National Convention Centre.

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