Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has firmly shut the door on any power sharing arrangement with Sinn Fein as his party surges in popularity.
A new opinion poll for the Sunday Independent newspaper has Fianna Fail at 27 per cent, two ahead of a falling Fine Gael and seven points clear of Sinn Fein.
With coalition partners the Labor Party also in freefall, the poll suggests Fianna Fail would be the big winners in any snap election.
But Martin has told the Irish Sun newspaper that he will not entertain any idea of a coalition with Sinn Fein despite their respective standings in recent polls.
Rather than send an olive branch to Gerry Adams, he slammed Sinn Fein for ‘bully-boy’ tactics and flawed policies.
The Fianna Fail leader and former Minister said: “Their policies are not compatible with ours, particularly on the economy.”
He continued: “Actions and behaviour emanating from members of that party I would have concerns about. They are in parliament and they can make their points of view there.
“Not all members of Sinn Fein, but a certain element engage in intimidation for political points - they did that in the North with the SDLP. There are attempting to do that down here.
“We now have a situation where city councils are being interfered with and that is dangerous. That’s what happened in the 1930s in Germany.”
Asked about power sharing, he stressed: “We are not even there yet in terms of power-sharing. I’ve been in Government and there is no point in going back into it for the sake of it.”
Martin also played down the significance of the opinion polls and insisted Fianna Fail wasn’t looking beyond next year’s local elections.
Reminded that he had been warned he would never be Irish Prime Minister when he succeeded Brian Cowan as FF leader, Martin insisted: “That might very well be the case, but it’s an opportunity, a journey, to be the leader of a political party.
“We made mistakes, we did the wrong things and I think people abused the party and got us a very bad name.
“If we can go into a new phase where new people come in and politicians emerge from this era with a new set of policies that are closer to working people, then I’ll be a happier person. That’s my ultimate litmus test of success.”
Two points clear of Fine Gael in the latest poll, Martin refuses to read anything into the figures.
He added: “It does reflect a trend but no more than that. What I draw from the polls generally, to be honest, is that politics is not held in high esteem at the moment — and all politicians should accept that.
“People feel disillusioned with politics and polls do reflect that.
“We have a gargantuan task ahead of us to regain the trust of the people and that’s where I see our big task.”