A Government TD has said he has no confidence in Taoiseach Micheál Martin in his handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
Sligo TD Marc MacSharry hit out at the Government’s repeated use of lockdown as its “only strategy”, despite World Health Organization (WHO) advice to the contrary.
Speaking on Newstalk, Mr MacSharry said just because he is a Government TD, it doesn’t mean he has to stop exercising his brain or his own individual judgement on how the crisis is being managed.
“No, I don’t have confidence in his handling of the crisis,” said Mr MacSharry.
While Mr MacSharry's comments were made in the context of a discussion on the pandemic, there has been mounting speculation of a move against Mr Martin.
There is widespread unhappiness within Fianna Fáil as to the party's performance in Government as well as its current record low opinion poll ratings.
Mr MacSharry said he had serious concerns about the implications of decisions being taken purely based on the health perspective alone.
He said the country has been subject to abnormal conditions for 15 months and what is needed now is a strategy for living with the virus in the long term.
He cited a medic’s prediction that Covid-19 could be with us “for centuries” and hit out at what he called the wasted opportunities so far to upskill the country to allow it open up successfully.
He hit out at Ireland being the country which has been in lockdown for longer than anywhere in the world.
Mr MacSharry, who has been among a number of Fianna Fáil TDs to voice persistent criticism of Mr Martin and the Government in recent times, also voiced concern at Ireland’s failure to “think outside of the box” when it came to securing extra vaccines outside of the EU structure.
He said that despite his unhappiness with the Government’s handling of the crisis, he is not prepared to resign as a member of his party.
Mr MacSharry has clashed with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Mr Martin at meetings of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party in recent weeks.
When it was pointed out that he had called for an opening of society when case numbers were in excess of 1,000 per day, Mr MacSharry said he accepted he got it wrong but said his call was based on "available data" at the time.
He said he was not afraid of getting it wrong and political leadership must be prepared to admit when they get it wrong.
In this paper, Mr MacSharry said the virus was not "indiscriminate" and mostly impacted old people and those with pre-existing conditions.
He said he didn't want to put anyone in danger and that his views would have changed over Christmas.