Micheál Martin could be in a bit of bother next week 6 days ago

Micheál Martin could be in a bit of bother next week

"The rules of the party are there."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has backed Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, saying he doesn’t believe the recent controversy is an “issue that merits the removal of a minister”.

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Martin described Sinn Féin's decision to table a motion of no-confidence in the minister next week as "old-style naked opposition politics".

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Friday morning, Martin said it was “a bit rich” of Sinn Féin to put in a no-confidence motion over allegations of cronyism.

"Are we seriously suggesting that the appointment of a part-time envoy in itself justifies a vote of no confidence in a minister?” Martin said.

“I think that's not proportionate or balanced. I do not believe this is an issue that merits the removal of a minister."

He added: “I just simply do not believe that that would be a proportionate response in this case."

Martin is facing into a potential crisis in next week’s vote, with the question being, will any of the critics within the Fianna Fáil party refuse to give Coveney their backing?

Known dissenter John McGuinness, representing Carlow-Kilkenny, has already called on Martin to step down as party leader, saying he has become a doormat for Fine Gael to walk over.

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There’s also question marks over how much support Coveney will have from others in the Fianna Fáil party, including Marc MacSharry and Barry Cowen.

What will be the consequences for them – or for Martin - if any of the aforementioned decide not to support Coveney in the vote?

“The rules of the party are there,” Martin said on Friday.

“They’re consistent, they’re there before I became leader in respect of supporting party decisions and the government of the day.”

It’s a line you’d expect the leader of the party to say, but he’s stuck between a Fine Gael-sized rock and a… you know how this analogy goes.

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With leaks from the two-day Fianna Fáil party think-in taking place in Cavan suggesting criticism from within aimed at the Taoiseach, a no-confidence motion in a minister is very high on the list of things he could have done without.

Main image via Sam Boal/Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie