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‘I’m not counting my chickens’

Thursday, 18th June, 2020 10:07am

A Fianna Fáil councillor said she believes party leader Micheál Martin won’t hold her opposition to the planned government formation against her.

Cllr Deirdre Kelly, like a large number of other party members all over the country, is part of Fairer Future, a group formed to defeat the Programme for Government (PfG) negotiated by Fine Gael, the Green Party and the leadership of Fianna Fáil.

The West Cork councillor said: “There’s a huge cohort of Fianna Fáil members around the country and many of us were speaking with each other. We aren’t happy with the decision to enter into a coalition based on the fact that we canvassed to deliver real change during January and February, prior to the General Election.

“We believe that a government with Fine Gael doesn’t constitute change, it’s just a continuation of the same. We feel we would be letting the members and voters down,” she said.

Micheál Martin confirmed to the Cork Independent that his relationship with party members won’t fray if they vote against the PfG. Yesterday, he also continued to encourage councillors and grassroots members to support the PfG.

He explained: “This is politics, it’s not personal. I would say to our party members who are against the PfG that this is about putting the country first and it’s about putting the country before the party. Many will say that this will do harm to the party but the country is facing such an extraordinary challenges because of Covid-19. 

“Thousands and thousands of people have lost their jobs and we have an obligation as members of parliament to do the best we can to get a government formed for the next five years that would be durable and sustainable,” he said.

Meanwhile the Green Party is also facing a struggle to pass the PfG which means the chances of the Cork South-Central TD becoming the Taoiseach are in limbo.

When asked about his prospects of becoming Taoiseach, Deputy Martin said: “I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch.”

He added: “We were meant to hold a vote about the PfG at our Ard Fheis, but because of Covid-19 it’ll be a postal vote of 15,000 members and I’m happy to give all of our members a voice on this. The public want a government formed and we worked very hard on putting this plan together. It’s a lengthy document and delivery of it is key to reboot the country.”

No coalition

Cllr Deirde Kelly added: “I don’t want to go into coalition with any party and wanted Fianna Fáil in government. However, that’s not what was voted for given that 75 per cent of the voters voted for the three main parties. It’s not about me or Fianna Fáil, it’s about what the electorate wanted and I believe that all parties and none should have entered into talks to provide a national unity government for a period of perhaps one year.”

Cllr Kelly, who described Micheál Martin as a democratic man, said that he understood that she and other members of the Fairer Future campaign group are in a party that allows all voices to be heard.

“I don’t believe he will hold this against me. This isn’t some sort of maverick or rebellion movement, this really is based on my integrity and what I promised.”

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