The panel on RTÉ’s Saturday with Claire Byrne at the weekend
At the weekend.
On Saturday with Claire Byrne.
Claire was joined today by Sinn Fein MP Francie Molloy, political editor of the Irish Examiner Daniel McConnell, Fianna Fail TD Darragh O’Brien, Independent Alliance TD Michael Fitzmaurice, Fine Gael party chairman Martin Heydon and Irish Times political reporter Mary Minihan.
During their discussion, Michael Fitzmaurice was asked about why he will not be supporting the nomination of Leo Varadkar for Taoiseach in the Dail tomorrow.
Claire Byrne: “Michael, you’re not going to vote for Leo [Varadkar]. You’re going to vote against Leo. You abstained when it was Enda Kenny but you’re voting against Leo. What did he do to you?”
Michael Fitzmaurice: “Leo did nothing. I made it very clear that, first of all, it’s nothing against him. It would be the same if it was Simon Coveney and I wish him luck by the way. But the last time I was at talks and, look it, it went up to the very last few minutes but a Programme for Government was put together and that Programme for Government and all the people, in fairness Fianna Fáil were involved at the time, and Independents were involved and we drove up and down the road many a day to try and put a document together and, unfortunately, there are lots of parts of that Programme for Government that would be important and parts that I would have been very involved in myself, like agriculture, and rural, you know, things in rural Ireland that haven’t been delivered on. Look it, it has basically been…”
Byrne: “So it’s a protest vote really?”
Fitzmaurice: “Look it, there’s no point in voting, there’s no point in spending 80 days up and down a road to have a piece of paper that you look at above in a frame and nothing happening on it. And that’s the reason and that’s the only reason. There’s absolutely nothing against Leo Varadkar. As I say, I wish him the best of luck. But that’s my stand and I’m taking it.”
Daniel McConnell: “Michael, Michael, come on, would you not be honest like, cause we’ve spoken about this before and others who have spoken about this before. You know Simon Coveney was one who was very involved in the talks but Leo Varadkar, all the way through, was a very disinterested figure, he was more interested in looking at his phone than he was looking in the eyes of the Independents. Is that not more the reason for not voting for him than the failure to put the stuff through like?”
Fitzmaurice: “If you want to deal with, you’re dealing with two different issues there and you’re asking me two different questions and I’ll deal with both questions very frank and clear. In fairness to Simon Coveney, he put in hours and hours and there was many a row during it and, in fairness to him, he never threw the baby out with the bathwater.
“Yeah, there was less interest from Leo but that’s absolutely nothing got to do today with, when you agree a Programme for Government or when it’s there, it’s about delivering and, yes, some things have been delivered on, I’m not going to go saying or slating that nothing has been delivered. But the important things and especially, you know, I see things in agriculture – cause that’s the type of rural area I come from – that’s ferociously important to keeping families in rural areas that hasn’t seen the boom thankfully that Dublin has seen and Galway city has seen. And that’s good and job numbers and more people working is good things. I’m not being critical of everything.”
Byrne: “And you did say that if Simon had won the contest that you would take the same stance.”
Listen back in full here