Belfast Telegraph

Martin unveils frontbench roles

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has pledged to head a constructive and robust opposition as he unveiled a frontbench role for each of the party's 20 TDs.

Mr Martin said his team balanced experience with fresh perspectives and he accused the Government of spin and optics since taking office.

He defended appointing Brian Lenihan to the finance brief, claiming it is important to have someone with an insight into the financial crisis.

"I think in my view it's important that somebody who is aware of all that went on over the last two years has important insights to offer and perspectives to offer on the current situation," Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin took a swipe at the Fine Gael-Labour Government, saying a lot of the promises made during the election campaign had not come true, such as ensuring major European bank lenders take a hit on losses.

He said: "There is spinning all over. And it's a good line for the first six months, everything is someone else's fault. They were well aware during the election campaign, they were well aware for a year or two years in advance in terms of the severity of the economic crisis and the banking crisis not just here but globally.

"And I think they over did it over the last two years, and they overdid it in terms of their cynicism and in terms of their electioneering and I think now they have a lot of hostages to fortune."

The new Fianna Fail frontbench team includes Sean O Fearghail as whip and foreign affairs spokesman, Michael McGrath as public expenditure and financial reform head and Sean Fleming on the public sector reform brief.

Brendan Smith will speak for the party on education and skills, Willie O'Dea on enterprise, jobs and innovation and Niall Collins on the environment, community and local government.

Barry Cowen has been given the social protection brief, Charlie McConalogue will speak on children and Dara Calleary takes charge of justice, equality and defence. The health brief has been given to Billy Kelleher and Timmy Dooley takes charge of transport, tourism and sport.

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