Belfast Telegraph

Martin sorry for party's mistakes

Newly crowned Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said sorry for the party's past mistakes - but insisted they didn't get everything wrong.

The former foreign affairs minister refused to say how many seats he was targeting in the general election and whether Taoiseach Brian Cowen would stand again.

Although Mr Martin admitted Fianna Fail's role in the country's economic crisis, he claimed other political parties in the Dail were just as culpable.

"I am sorry for the mistakes we made as a party and that I made as a minister, (I'm) very sorry for those mistakes that we made," he said.

But he claimed there were "systemic failings" in the political system and pointed the finger at the Opposition for competing with Fianna Fail on tax cuts and spending promises.

Mr Martin also defended his party's record in creating jobs, building new roads and improving education. "We didn't get everything wrong in the last ten to 15 years," he said.

The Cork TD was elected the eighth leader of Fianna Fail after a secret ballot in Leinster House sparked by Mr Cowen's decision to stand down at the weekend.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, Social Protection and Defence Minister Eamon O Cuiv, and Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin also put themselves forward in the contest.

On the first count, Mr Martin received 33 votes, Mr O Cuiv received 15, Mr Lenihan got 14 and Ms Hanafin was eliminated on 10 votes. After transfers in the second count, Mr O Cuiv and Mr Lenihan were on 18 votes each and Mr Martin 36 votes. The new leader was eventually elected on the final count with 50 votes, compared to Mr O Cuiv's 22.

Mr Cowen will remain as Taoiseach until a new government is formed after the general election.

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