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Martin: Fianna Fail candidates’ inexperience no obstacle to dealing with Brexit

Party leader Micheal Martin has accused Leo Varadkar of claiming Fine Gael is ‘superior’.

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Fianna Fail Leader Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail Leader Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail Leader Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has insisted his party has the candidates to lead Ireland through the next round of Brexit negotiations.

Mr Martin’s party has been in a confidence and supply arrangement with Fine Gael for the past four years.

Fine Gael has sought to make its role in Brexit negotiations a key part of its re-election strategy.

Speaking in Dublin on Wednesday, Mr Martin defended his candidates after Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said his “Brexit team” – including Simon Coveney and Helen McEntee – should remain in place.

Helen McEntee and Simon Coveney
Helen McEntee and Simon Coveney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Martin said the experience of Mr Varadkar’s team in the first phase of Brexit talks does not put Fianna Fail at a disadvantage, and cited his own role as a former foreign minister.

He said: “Helen McEntee did not have experience before she became a minister for state. There are many ministers in new governments who are ministers for the first time. That is a natural phenomenon in politics.

“I don’t buy that somehow Fine Gael are incredibly superior beings and everyone else is of an inferior quality.”

He also said Sinn Fein (SF) policies do not “hang together on a lot of fronts”.

He said some of SF’s financial proposals amount to “funny money”, and there is no way they can deliver a lot of what they are promising.

“We are the only party which has detailed the costs of every promise,” Mr Martin said.

“As we come to the final days of this campaign, Fine Gael has still failed to provide the funding details for 80% of its promises and Sinn Fein for 75% of its promises, and I welcome last night’s debate because the scrutiny they have received will mean more serious questions are arising about their promises.”

Mr Martin said Fianna Fail would put more resources into education and added that he regretted education had not come up much during the campaign.

“We want to reduce class sizes, have targeted support for special needs, and for disadvantaged schools. We’re the only party which wants to tackle the funding emergency which is undermining our third level sector.

“Education has been one of the passions of my public life. It is the absolute foundation for social and economic progress. We need… a commitment to making our education system more inclusive, to improving funding and supporting our teachers and lecturers.”

PA