Fianna Fail Leader Michael Martin says that his party’s new constituency office on Jocelyn Street demonstrates their desire to have a physical presence on the ground in Dundalk.
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat Deputy Martin said that the opening the office had nothing to do with reclaiming territory from Sinn Fein and had everything to do with Fianna Fail wanting to be a more effective party on the ground.
“We want to have a strong presence in Dundalk and to rebuild our base here,”said Deputy Martin. “We want to have a base here. It’s not about taking back ground from Sinn Fein. I always believed it’s about setting out your stall, not about taking from others. We want to increase our platform here so we can extend our agenda here in Dundalk.”
Deputy Martin was asked if he was surprised at opinion polls showing an increase for his party’s popularity, despite it being just two years since taking a hammering at the general election.
“I find opinion polls a distraction. This was always going to be a long term journey. I don’t take much heed of the opinion polls. Renewing the party and doing that in a constructive way has been our focus.
“I also don’t accept that Fianna Fail were entirely to blame the financial situation. Eamon Gilmore always says that it was our party’s fault but there was a global financial crisis across Asia and America and the UK.
“Over the last years people have seen that and there has been a positive response from the people. Politics has lost its credibility, the people’s trust has been undermined.”
Deputy Martin also his party would like to see a stimulation of the construction sector, which would have a knock-on effect to local economies, namely through a school building programme.
“The government have no real policy on tackling youth unemployment, while Fianna Fail have a specific strategy on this issue. Given the scale of the problem, more could be done.”
Deputy Martin also spoke about the need to better resource the Gardaí in the region, and to the tackle the scale of the fuel laundering in the region, which he took to be symptomatic of the general economic malaise.
The Fianna Fail leader also said that he saw local elections as a key battle ground for his party, which needed to rebuilt from the “grass roots” up.