From top: RTÉ’s Áine Lawlor and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin
Fine Gael Health Minister Leo Varadkar was interviewed on Morning Ireland today.
During the interview Mr Varadkar levelled criticism against Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin in relation to his time as Health Minister between 2000 to 2004.
Morning Ireland presenter Cathal MacCoille said Fianna Fáil was asked to come on the show, to respond to Mr Varadkar’s assertions, but the offer was turned down.
Further to this, Mr Martin spoke with Áine Lawlor on RTÉ’s News At One.
It got a bit… tetchy.
Áine Lawlor: “We’re joined now, from Galway, by the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and good afternoon to you.”
Micheál Martin: “Good afternoon you, Áine.”
Lawlor: “On the latest figures, even if the Fine Gael/Fiann Fáil coalition would be short won in getting a majority, is a grand coalition looking like the only answer?”
Martin: “Áine what figures are those?
Lawlor: “The Red C poll.”
Martin: “But you know by… first of all, by the way, I thought I was coming on to respond to Leo Varadkar this morning.”
Lawlor: “I’m not, I’ll come to that in a moment…sorry, I..”
Talk over each other
Martin: “I’ve answered these questions ad nauseam. The bottom line is…”
Lawlor: “No, just to say, Micheal Martin, just to say Micheal Martin, the reason I asked you about the poll is because I wanted to talk about the general state of the play in the campaign first before…”
Martin: “I know…”
Lawlor: “…going into accusations that have been, we can deal with that first if you’d rather?”
Martin: “No, I’ve no problem with it at all. But, just to say to you that that was the basis upon which this interview was agreed, from my perspective. I’ve no difficulty in answering your question and I’ve answered it before. I think we need to be very careful in terms of the parameters by which we’re going to judge this election and, particularly, the opinion polls. I’ve said in the past that, in the United Kingdom for example, opinion polls were out by 6.5% and the problem with that was it dictated the type of debate that was held in Britain. In other words, the British people never got to discuss what the Tories would do to their health system, or would do to their social welfare and so on. So we need to be careful in Ireland that we don’t allow the polls to dominate this debate to the exclusion of issues and the kind of country we want and Fianna Fáil have been saying, from the outset, that there’s a choice between the Irish people, that Fianna Fáil, between a Fianna Fáil-led Government that would focus on fairness, on a fair break for the self-employed and for enterprise and for decency in society as a whole as opposed to a Fine Gael-led government which will and look after the wealthiest in our society. And then it’s up to the people to decide, in relation to that choice, I think we’ve succeeded in doing that during this campaign…”
Lawlor: “Absolutely. Which is why…”
Talk over each other
Lawlor: “… which is why I am putting this question to you because you’re pre-supposing that we will be able to put a Government together. But given what the polls are indicating, at this point in time, and given what you have said and what Enda Kenny has said about who, and who you will not, go in with. The question before voters in the run-up to next Friday is whether there is any government that can be put together given what you’re all saying at the moment. So that’s why I’m asking you the question: is a grand coalition the only viable option?”
Martin: “I don’t agree with your premise and I’ve said this time and time again. I don’t agree with that premise. I think your discussion, and all of the discussion, is on the basis that the election has happened, the election has not happened. In the local elections for example, of where we can take that basis, we would have been discussing Fianna Fail coming in on third place.”
Talk over each other
Lawlor: “No the question is based, Micheal Martin, on the fact that the people of this country elect a Dáil…”
Martin: “Aine I would appreciate if you would allow me answer the question please.”
Lawlor: “Yes, but..”
Talk over each other
Lawlor: “The people of this country will elect a Dáil. That Dáil’s job is to elect a Government. If the people of this country don’t want to be Portugal, don’t want to be Spain, don’t want to be paying higher interest rates, do want to have an actual Government, I’m asking you when that Dáil is elected will you do your part in working with other politicians to put a Government together because, at the moment, a Government may not result after next Friday.”
Martin: “That’s the Fine Gael line you’re peddling in terms of Portugal. The Irish people aren’t responsible for Portugal, Italy or anybody else. We know there are international issues that are determining the global situation, not least the volatility in China and the uncertain situation there and other issues. My point is and my point, repeatedly has been, that this election hasn’t even begun. And I do not accept that the opinion polls may be correct in terms of what will actually happen. And you can go through constituency polls which give a far different perspective, by the way, of seats, than the national polls. I have said over a week ago that we will, just as we have been in the last Dail, responsible in terms of looking after this country. For example…”
Lawlor: “So you will play your part in putting a Government together after the 26th?”
Martin: “Aine, could I just make a comment to you? I listened to Leo Varadkar this morning. He didn’t have this aggressive intervening and interruption every time I’m trying to put a coherent paragraph together. And I would appreciate it if I was allowed the same space that Government ministers are repeatedly allowed on RTE programmes. I really would appreciate it.”
Lawlor: “Micheal Martin, I can only answer for the interviews I do…the reason..”
Martin: “But I just want to make the point to you that..”
Lawlor: “I appreciate that but, I also think that you’ve been rather unfair on that challenge that you’ve put down there, so let’s move on and talk about the question of Leo Varadkar and the allegations that he made against you…”
Listen back in full here