Taoiseach Micheál Martin has admitted he has made mistakes, but rejected repeated claims from his opponents that the Government has lurched from one crisis to another over the last three months.
"There have been events that we could have done without”, he conceded on the Mick Clifford podcast where he discussed the first 100 days off office. “Of course one makes mistakes but I think the substance [of what has been achieved] far outweighs a lot of the negatives.
“There is a lot of noise going on and you have to learn not to be affected by the noise. You have to build resilience. You have to see it as a lot of noise but you do learn from mistakes. You have to make sure that if you make one you learn from it and you don’t make it again.”
In the podcast interview, however, he does admit that the lowest point of his first 100 days in office was the departure of two ministers from office. Mr Martin sacked Barry Cowen as minister for agriculture in July following a drink-driving incident.
Just over a month later, Mr Cowen’s successor Dara Calleary resigned in the wake of thebreaking the story about the Oireachtas golf society dinner in Clifden, Co Galway.
“Those two ministers having to resign was the worst part of it because they were personal blows to the individuals. That was a low point,” he says.
He said he was psychologically prepared for becoming Taoiseach so there wasn’t much that surprised him about the job apart from the level of security that is required for the Taoiseach. “The security thing I didn’t anticipate,” he says. “I was taken aback one day when I was going to go for a walk down by the Dodder and they [the gardaí] said we have to go with you”.
Mr Martin says he will not be stepping aside within his party if the current government runs until December 2022 when he is due to hand over the reins of government to Leo Varadkar.
The arrangement between the coalition parties is that Mr Varadkar (assuming he is still leader of Fine Gael) will swap places with Mr Martin at that time.
Asked if he would step back from the leadership of his party at that point, he said two issues arise:
“Firstly, it’s only 100 days into the Government so it’s a long way to go to December 2022. But I do see myself swapping places [with Mr Varadkar].
“I’m going to continue on. It’s important that we demonstrate stability and consistency and continue because this is a new form of government with a rotating Taoiseach.” He agreed that this course would see him leading Fianna Fail into the next general election.
Micheál Martin is interviewed on The Mick Clifford Podcast available at www.irishexaminer.com