Published Sunday, 21 October 2012
Micheál Martin, pictured, when newly elected as the FF leader in January 2011. (© Getty)
Mr Martin claimed that the coalition has dramatically reduced its level of engagement with Northern affairs.
Speaking at the annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown, Mr Martin also accused the DUP and Sinn Féin of putting party interest ahead of the public interest.
He said there seems to be a view in Dublin that everything is running smoothly in the region.
Stressing that much work still had to be done to end division and sectarianism in Northern Ireland, he characterised Taoiseach Enda Kenny's attitude to cross-border matters as one of disengagement and complacency.
"Unfortunately too many people today think that the work is over - that we can take for granted what has been achieved," he said.
"This could be a mistake of historic proportions.
"The Irish government has dramatically reduced its level of engagement with northern affairs."
Given the effort that went into this process over a very long time by very many people, this sort of disengagement and complacency by our own government is unacceptable.
He added: "I know that these are hard words, but they are fully borne out by the reality."
Mr Martin further claimed that the Taoiseach has had "the bare minimum of meetings concerning the north and has outlined not a single new item for his agenda."
"There has been no attempt to move the process to the next stage. There has been no push for initiatives to undertake vital anti-sectarian work."
"There has been no discussion of how the long-term roots of division and underdevelopment are to be tackled."
Mr Martin then turned his critical focus to the main parties in Northern Ireland, claiming the popular legitimacy of the power sharing institutions were in danger of being undermined.
"The Peace Process was always intended to be about more than an absence of violence," he said.
"The people of the north deserve a political system that delivers progress that demonstrates that politics works and which is about making their lives better."
Micheál Martin's comments have more to do with his fear of Sinn Féin in the south than a concern about the north.
Mr Martin said in some areas things seemed to getting worse.
"For example, the north was confirmed as having the highest levels of child poverty in the relevant comparisons, with an average of 28%. West Belfast currently has a staggering 46.2% of children living in poverty.
"As a Republican Party we have to care about these issues. As long as any Irish citizen is being failed by politics, we need to take an interest and do what we can to address it."
He highlighted that most of the major advances in the peace process "required years of work in getting the DUP and Sinn Féin to change their policies."
"Getting them to accept the principles of the (Belfast) agreement in all their dimensions delayed its full implementation for nearly a decade.
"It is at best foolish and at worst reckless to step back and believe that the DUP and Sinn Féin are capable of working in the interests of all groups.
"Peace is not something to be taken for granted - it must be built upon."
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the comments rang "hollow".
"This government is simply implementing the policies of the last Fianna Fáil government," Mr Adams said.
"The end of conflict, the peace process and the power sharing institutions are among the greatest achievements of modern years."