Tuesday 6 December 2016

'It could be the most conservative government in decades' - Joan Burton warns of FF/FG alliance

Philip Ryan, Barry Lennon and Niall O’Connor

Published 24/02/2016 | 16:35

Tanaiste Joan Burton pictured at Labour HQ
Tanaiste Joan Burton pictured at Labour HQ

Tanaiste Joan Burton has launched a last ditch effort to save the Labour Party by warning voters that a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil coalition will be the “most conservative government in decades”.

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At a press conference in Labour’s headquarters in Dublin, Ms Burton said opinion polls are indicating the country is faced with the “stark reality” that a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil coalition may emerge after the General Election.

She described the possibility of a ‘grand coalition’ between the old civil war enemies as the “elephant in the room” ahead of the election and said there is a real possibility the country could end up with a government that “nobody wants”.

“Public opinion is probably more progressive, more liberal, more anxious than at any time in my life and yet we could end up by default with perhaps the most conservative government in recent decades,” she said.

The Tánaiste urged also voters thinking of voting for Independents to “think twice” before marking the ballot paper.

Ms Burton played down suggestions that her warning of a possible Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil coalition came to late in the campaign.

She also insisted she is not concerned her leadership may be under threat if the Labour Party performs badly in the polls

“Well, I’m not anticipating that it will arise because we’re fighting for every seat and the campaign has experienced a huge amount of warmth around the achievement of marriage equality,” she said

She also dismissed suggests she may be disappointed Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly did not attend the crucial press conference.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said Labour TDs were “fighting for their political lives” as the election day nears closer.

Mr Howlin also warned of the impact of a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil coalition.

He said Micheal Martin’s party would “never play second fiddle” to Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael.

“The dogs on the street know that. The only thing, not the first thing, on their agenda will be the split. Those who know these parties are already talking about temporary little arrangements,” he said.

Mr Howlin said Fianna Fáil would only support a Fine Gael government until it “bruised it sufficiently to take electoral advantage”.

Communications Minister Alex White reaffirmed the party’s commitment to hold a referendum on repealing the eight amendment.

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