FG 'more interested in sound bites than in getting out of health crisis,' says Micheál Martin

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FG 'more interested in sound bites than in getting out of health crisis,' says Micheál Martin
FG 'more interested in sound bites than in getting out of health crisis,' says Micheál Martin

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that he wasn’t confident of the vote of Maria Bailey, in the event of a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Simon Harris.

The two men are due to meet again this week ahead of the expected dissolution of the Dáil and the loss of three TDs in recent times had really put the Taoiseach in some difficulty, according to Mr Martin.

“He said to us that he wasn’t sure of some of his own people,” Mr Martin said.

In the last four years, Mr Martin said Fianna Fáil had honoured the Confidence and Supply Agreement and that “no one can question Fianna Fáil’s bona fides”.

The current government was more concerned with its own image and there was no doubt that it had failed on health and housing, he said.

Mr Martin said: “In this election we’re saying we need a change in government. In the last nine years Fianna Fáil had supported the fiscal treaty and had been responsible and had facilitated responsible budgeting.

“We didn’t prevent them (the government) from delivering on health and housing.”

The Fianna Fáil leader defended his own and his party’s record in health and said that “by any metric” Fine Gael had failed. James Reilly “did damage” when he got rid of the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

“Simon Harris hasn’t delivered 1,000 beds, the real issue here is three Ministers – James Reilly, Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris – were more interested in sound bites than in getting out of the health crisis.

Leo Varadkar’s performance in health was very poor, he couldn’t wait to get out.

Mr Martin said that Fine Gael had presided over the escalating cost of the children’s hospital from €0.5bn to €2bn.“Seven years ago Fine Gael said the bad times are over.”

Since then, Fianna Fáil had “called them out” over every Budget which did not meet reality and required a surplus. The core of the trolley crisis was the lack of beds because of delayed discharges. Fine Gael should have addressed that, he said.

The government had also failed to provide affordable housing. He said: “Not one affordable house was facilitated by this government. I believe that’s indicative of their ability to get anything done. Their inability to get on top of it.”

Mr Martin said that in the 60s, 70s and 80s Fianna Fáil had built social housing. “We built housing, I have no problem building council housing estates, I don’t hold my nose at that like Fine Gael.”

The Fianna Fáil leader said he believed his party is stronger now than going into the 2016 general election.

“It’s not about Micheál Martin, it’s about issues like health and housing. I don’t have much patience or tolerance for who’s in and who’s out.

We’re not going to fail in this election. We’re going to win more seats. It’s about a new government which can bring a new focus to health and housing.

“I’m pushing myself and the party to increase our number of seats.”

He said that he would be prepared to talk to other parties to form a government.

“Our focus is on bringing about a change of government.”

When asked about the possibility of forming a government with Sinn Féin, Mr Martin replied: “Let me make it clear. I don’t trust Sinn Féin.”

He said he had a problem with people outside the elected representatives contributing to what happens. “You don’t get over that.”

Source: Full Feed