Martin warns over party loyalty
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has apologised for his party's role in leading Ireland from boom to bust.
The former government minister made his remarks at Fianna Fail's 73rd Ard Fheis in the RDS, where tens of thousands of potential emigrants were also gathering at an overseas jobs fair.
"We made mistakes, we got things wrong and we are sorry for that," said Mr Martin. "No equivocation, no half apology, just the plain, unvarnished truth."
Mr Martin admitted the party should have acted differently in its handling of the economy, with policies that contributed to the fall of the Celtic Tiger and Ireland's epic property crash.
And he said he understood why the public turned against Fianna Fail in last year's election, which saw the party lose parliamentary control for the first time since the 1980s.
"Last year the people did what they were right to do - they held us to account," he said. "People were angry and they showed it, delivering a historic defeat for us. We fully acknowledge the scale of the defeat."
Fianna Fail has come under constant fire from the current Fine Gael-Labour government for striking deals with the IMF, handing Ireland's sovereignty over to Europe and leaving the nation to pay for the debts of foreign banks.
There are also more than 400,000 people currently on the dole, as a result of an unemployment crisis brought about by the economic crash.
"It's not enough to point to the worst world recession in 80 years and the eurozone crisis," Mr Martin went on. "Nor to point to the fact that other parties were demanding policies which would have made things worse - that's for them to answer for. We were in government and we should have acted differently."
Around 40,000 people are expected to leave Ireland in search of better employment opportunities abroad.