Belfast Telegraph

Martin 'happy' to debate with Adams

Fianna Fail has asked if Gerry Adams has been nominated as the Taoiseach's mouthpiece in the Government's campaign to abolish the Seanad.

As Enda Kenny ducked another challenge from Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin for a live TV debate on the referendum, telling him "I don't want to embarrass you," the party welcomed calls for a showdown from the Sinn Fein president.

"If the Taoiseach and the Yes campaign are now nominating Gerry Adams as their representative in leaders' debates about the future of the Oireachtas, we will of course be happy to meet him head-to-head," a Fianna Fail spokesman said.

Mr Adams had challenged Mr Martin, whose party is the only one to campaign against the scrapping of the upper house, to a formal debate.

He also accused the Fianna Fail leader of using the public vote on October 4 as a platform to gain airtime for his party, saying he has no real interest in political reform.

"I'm challenging him to a public debate, however that's organised on TV or otherwise is a matter just for logistics," Mr Adams said.

"I think the Taoiseach should be prepared to debate and argue every single issue, but that's a judgement for him to make, not for me. But I certainly would challenge Micheal Martin to debate these issues with me."

He added that Mr Martin's party had no interest in reform when it was in Government before the current Fine Gael-Labour coalition.

He claimed the party was guilty of years of "patronage" and "using the Seanad to award cronies", saying this contradicts Mr Martin's sudden change of heart to reform it.

"His job is to rebuild Fianna Fail and use whatever tactics that he can," Mr Adams said.

"I don't think it's a serious commitment to reform. I think his record on the lack of reform is proof that Fianna Fail isn't for really changing how this place is run."

Despite backing the Government's campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum, Mr Adams also criticised Enda Kenny for dodging a challenge to debate the issue himself.

Mr Kenny has insisted he will argue the Government's case for abolishing the Seanad - but only at Leaders' Questions.

The Sinn Fein president described this platform as limited because opposition leaders are only given three minutes to speak.


From Belfast Telegraph