Micheal Martin: 'Decision to add Sean Haughey to Dublin Bay was not personal'
FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin said the decision to add Sean Haughey to the ticket in Dublin Bay North was "not personal".
Deidre Heney, who had previously been selected, attacked Martin after the move, and said the "old boys' brigade was alive and well" in Fianna Fail.
Speaking at the Fianna Fail 'think in' at the Marine Hotel in Sutton, Martin (inset) yesterday insisted the decision taken by the party's national constituency committee was based on research.
"It's not personal in any shape or form, it's not part of any club or anything like that. It's very much a hard-nosed decision based on an objective assessment," he said.
Martin (inset) also called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to take part in a "no-holds-barred" public debate ahead of the General Election.
Martin said he was "absolutely" the only alternative Taoiseach to Kenny after Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams last weekend said he did not want to lead the country.
Referring to recent revelations in the Herald, the Fianna Fail leader said Fine Gael's "fundamental strategy is to hide Enda Kenny as often as they can in order to propel themselves to victory".
"It will be up to the Taoiseach to be up front and debate publicly so we can have a fulsome, energetic and active campaign where political leaders don't go for the soundbites or running for the organised PR opportunities," Martin added.
Martin played down suggestions from Carlow Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward that sections of the Fianna Fail membership in his constituency are in favour of a Coalition with Sinn Fein.
"There is a very strong centre ground opposition to facilitating Sinn Fein coming into government in any shape or form," he said.
He said the party "learned lessons" from the economic crash and promised not to make unrealistic proposals before the election. "The electorate will look at the 2011 experience in terms of all the promises that were made and then reneged upon. I think people were taken aback," he said.