Saturday 3 December 2016

Fine Gael ramps up attacks on Fianna Fáil - but Kenny denies he is becoming personal

Published 14/02/2016 | 14:28

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Fine Gael has ramped up its attacks on Fianna Fáil as a new opinion poll shows a closing in the gap in support between the two parties.

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny today denied that he was engaging in personal and negative campaigning against Michéal Martin – before accusing the Fianna Fail leader of being “able to give it but not take it”.

Speaking at the launch of his party’s manifesto in Dublin, Mr Kenny said that the current group of Fianna Fáil politicians “don’t deserve to be in government” because they “haven’t earned their stripes”.

“We have every legitimate right to put out during the general election, from a political perspective the gross and abject contempt which the Fianna Fail party had for the people of this country,” Mr Kenny told reporters.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

They abandoned the hopes and aspirations of hundreds of thousands of our people. They do not deserve to be in government.

“There have always been good people in the Fianna Fail party but this crowd has not earned their stripes.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

The comments came as aa Red C opinion poll for the Sunday Business Post showed falls in support for Fine Gael and Labour in comparison for increases for Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein.

But despite the attacks, Mr Kenny repeatedly refused to categorically rule out serving as Taoiseach in a coalition that involves Fianna Fáil.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

He also declined to say whether he will keep his deputy James Reilly in the position if returned to government.

Meanwhile, the party’s manifesto – which runs to 136 pages – has pledged a series of tax cuts and spending measures.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking at the launch of Fine Gaels General Election Manifesto. The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

A 45c hike on the price of a pack of cigarettes has been pledged, while the party also plans to introduce a tax on fizzy drinks.

The Universal Social Charge (USC) will be abolished and tax credits for the self-employed will be introduced in order to make the tax system fairer.

Two referendums – on blasphemy and the woman’s life within the home – have been pledged.

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