Micheál Martin the right man to lead Fianna Fáil, says Michael McGrath

Asked by The Echo whether, with Fianna Fáil at 20% in the latest opinion poll, Mr Martin’s leadership might be in trouble, Mr McGrath replied: “Not at all”.
Micheál Martin the right man to lead Fianna Fáil, says Michael McGrath

Michael McGrath, the public expenditure minister, has said he believes Micheál Martin is the best person to lead the party. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

THE Taoiseach’s leadership of Fianna Fáil has received an endorsement from a senior minister considered by some to be his rival for the role.

Michael McGrath, the public expenditure minister, has said he believes Micheál Martin is the best person to lead the party.

He added that, contrary to speculation, Mr Martin will assume the office of Tánaiste when Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar becomes Taoiseach in December.

Asked by The Echo whether, with Fianna Fáil at 20% in the latest opinion poll, and backbenchers and senators meeting two weeks ago the discuss the party’s future, Mr Martin’s leadership might be in trouble, Mr McGrath replied: “Not at all”.

Mr McGrath said the Government had “emphatically” won a Dáil confidence vote by 19 votes, and was now focused on delivering the budget.

“I think the Taoiseach has provided outstanding leadership through Covid, through the war in Ukraine, and through the cost-of-living crisis,” said Mr McGrath.

“I know he is particularly keen that this will be an impactful budget that makes a real difference to people throughout the country, and that’s where our focus lies now, and I know that he has the full support of our parliamentary party.”

Mr McGrath, a constituency colleague of Mr Martin in Cork South Central who has sometimes been considered a potential leadership rival, dismissed speculation that Mr Martin might intend to stand down as Fianna Fáil leader when his term as Taoiseach ends on December 15.

“The transition will take place, and Micheál Martin will become Tánaiste, and Leo Varadkar will become Taoiseach in mid- December, and Micheál will continue to lead the party, I have no doubt whatsoever about that,” said Mr McGrath.

“I think he is the best person to continue to provide leadership, I think he has demonstrated that over the last two years or so as Taoiseach, and I look forward to seeing that continuing into the future.”

He added that the Government will run for its full term, to 2025.

RESHUFFLE

Mr McGrath declined to be drawn on speculation that he might be in line for the position of Minister for Finance in the anticipated Cabinet reshuffle in December, saying that it will be a matter for the party leaders.

He described Sinn Féin’s confidence vote earlier this week as “opportunistic”.

“I think the margin of victory will have helped to stabilise the Government,” he said.

“We saw the two Green Party TDs, who are outside the whip system, support the Government, as did Deputy McHugh, Deputy McSharry who had left Fianna Fáil, and a series of Independents as well, so if Sinn Féin were of the view that the Government was unstable and we didn’t have a working majority, I think that was answered emphatically in the Dáil during the week.”

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