Belfast Telegraph

Backing Government during Brexit negotiations a no-brainer – Micheal Martin

The Fianna Fail leader said party members had a nuanced view of extension of the confidence-and-supply agreement.

Micheal Martin speaks to the press during Fianna Fail’s annual conference in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Micheal Martin speaks to the press during Fianna Fail’s annual conference in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said it as a “no-brainer” for the party to extend the confidence-and-supply agreement in the midst of Brexit.

Mr Martin said party delegates had a “nuanced view” on the party’s decision to give the Government the space it needed to deal with the negotiations on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

“If we were now in the middle of an election we would not be in a position to put through emergency legislation that’s required in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” he said.

“Now, how logical would that be for the Irish parliament and the Irish government and the Irish political system? To me, it’s a no-brainer.”

Mr Martin made the comments on his arrival at the party’s national conference in Dublin.

Brexit and housing issues have dominated the agenda of the day-long event in Citywest Hotel.

Mr Martin refuted that his strategy to back the Government was not widely endorsed by many delegates in the party.

“I would not accept that actually … it’s not an issue in terms of my leadership,” he said.

He added: “There’s a more nuanced view on it as well when you talk to people and go through all the issues.”

Fianna Fail re-entered into a confidence-and-supply arrangement with the Government last year.

By doing so, it ensured the continuation of the Fine Gael-led minority government.

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Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin speaks to the press during his party’s annual conference in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Discussing the party’s partnership with the SDLP, Mr Martin said a new political agenda was required in Northern Ireland.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood will make an address at the conference for the first time since the two parties announced the partnership in January.

Mr Martin said: “Sinn Fein and the DUP, in our view, have essentially – by the way they ran the Executive – undermined the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.”

He said he believed a new middle ground was emerging in the region that was not obsessed with constitutional issues and instead wanted to see the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement functioning.

“The sensible thing for us is to work with the SDLP who are routed in the north … but work with them on a policy agenda in terms of that bringing new ideas and approaches,” he said.

PA

From Belfast Telegraph