Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he will lead Fianna Fáil into the next general election.
Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 Mr Martin confirmed that he wanted to continue to lead the party after he steps down as Taoiseach.
Asked about a leadership transition in the party before the next election Mr Martin said: “An advisor of mine pulled out a newspaper article in 2012 and it talked about a move against me – that was a long time ago.
“You will read about all sorts of moves.
Pressed on whether he would lead Fianna Fáil into the next election Mr Martin said: “Yes”.
He said he doesn’t worry about his legacy as Taoiseach which was overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic and said “you deal with the situation one has to deal with” when in power.
He said the Irish people “responded magnificently” to the pandemic.
But, Mr Martin said that despite calls by a number of different groups for the return of masks due to pressures on hospitals, a mandatory mask-wearing mandate is not justified.
He added that the government is guided by public health advice on Covid-19.
He said a return to masks wouldn’t “cut it” regarding hospital pressures as it’s extraordinarily hard to stop the spread of this new variant.
“The view is from public health is that this variant is so transmissible that it’s almost impossible to stop transmission,” he said, but added that the variant doesn’t seem to be as virulent or as damaging to health as previous variants.
Mr Martin said that Ireland won’t be setting a limit on the number of refugees the country takes, adding that there are approximately 16,000 here currently.
And, he said, the crisis has “generated an extraordinary response” from Irish people.
Mr Martin also appealed to Russia to “stop this immoral and inhumane war”.
The Taoiseach also spoke on the cost-of-living crisis during the interview, and hit back at claims in some media outlets that he said Ireland could run out of fuel.
He said that there is no need for people to panic buy. and that Ireland’s primary imports were from the UK and Norway – Ireland is not as reliant on Russia regarding fuel.
Mr Martin said, however, to offset some of the pressure on households, the government may look at expanding the eligibility criteria around the fuel allowance, would also work to protect families with children through social protection, and would work with stakeholders in society on the issue.