Martin: We cannot go into government with Sinn Féin over its EU policies

By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Micheál Martin has said there are “very significant” differences between Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, but avoided ruling out a future coalition with the main opposition party.

The Tánaiste and Fianna Fáil leader said that policy “has to be the bottom line” and the party cannot go into government with Sinn Féin if it maintains positions such as its approach to the EU.

He was speaking at the start of the 82nd Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis conference in Dublin, where he said that the focus would be on the cost of living, public services and challenges for farmers.

Mr Martin accused Sinn Féin of being able to “flip flop, U-turn to an alarming degree” on various issues, including on whether to call for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.

He said Sinn Féin was an anti-EU party that “don’t get the European Union”, accusing it of “antics” this week on the EU migration pact that aims to overhaul the immigration system in Europe.

He said: “As far as I’m concerned, we can’t go into government with Sinn Féin if it maintains policy positions like it’s maintained on Europe.”

“I think we’ll consult with the remainder of the party as well, and I’m very clear that policy has to be the bottom line.”

In an opening speech to Fianna Fáil delegates on Friday evening, Mr Martin accused Sinn Féin of spending “90 per cent of their time attacking government parties in aggressive and often personal terms”.

“In the case of Sinn Féin, we have the most cynical and destructive opposition in our history,” he said.

Covering other issues, Mr Martin said his party was “building a strong record of delivery” in the coalition government with Fine Gael and the Green Party.

He said that in four years, the government had delivered “more homes than in the previous nine years combined”, but admitted “we must, and we are going further”, and that there is “much more to be done”.