Tuesday 27 September 2016

Coveney: I don't subscribe to 'civil war' arguments regarding FG/FF coalition

Published 19/02/2016 | 17:51

Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence, Simon Coveny, speaking at the launch of Fine Gael's General Election Manifesto. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence, Simon Coveny, speaking at the launch of Fine Gael's General Election Manifesto. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Agriculture and Defence Minister Simon Coveney has said he does not subscribe to the 'civil war' type arguments used by some politicians to rule out the prospect of a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition.

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The prospect of both parties doing business has edged a step closer after a series of opinion polls show it to be the most likely result following polling.

While strongly criticising Fianna Fáil's performance in the last government, Mr Coveney admitted that he does not have ideological differences with the party.

“I don’t carry civil war baggage, it’s not what I’m about. A lot of people who are in Fianna Fáil’s camp or Fine Gael’s camp, it goes back to differences in history and all the rest of it. I judge Fianna Fáil on their last performance in government. When 300,000 lost their jobs, when a quarter of a million people had to leave Ireland to find work,” the Cork South Central TD said.

“That’s why I say I think it would be very, very difficult for us to put a Programme for Government together in terms of being compatible. If anything, their election manifesto and the promises Fianna Fáil have been making in this campaign actually show that divide between the two parties in a very, very clear way.”

Meanwhile, Mr Coveney has denied suggestions that Fine Gael is trying to “ignore” the issue of abortion during the General Election campaign.

Mr Coveney said his party has pledged to refer the issue to a Citizen’s Convention within six months, which will examine matters such as fatal foetal abnormalities.

The debate over the Eighth Amendment resurfaced on Thursday after the Labour Party said it would insist on starting the process of holding a referendum by the summer if they are involved in the upcoming Programme for Government negotiations.

Communications Minister Alex White also said it “behoves” candidates to give a response to serious issues such as abortion during the campaign.

But speaking at a Fine Gael event yesterday, Mr Coveney said he stood over previous comments that candidates should not be expected to given their personal views on the matter when asked.

“I stand over my comments. The Labour Party have a different perspective on that,” Mr Coveney told reporters.

“Fine Gael is a party that has lots of different views on this issue. I think lots of families in Ireland have different views too, even within their own families. This is a very sensitive issue. It’s a life and death issue. It’s a very emotive issue for lots and lots of people and it needs to be dealt with in a sensitive way as opposed to toing and froing in a political debate.

"Something like fatal foetal abnormality is an incredibly complex issue. We need to do that in a sensitive and no party political way.”

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