Friday 30 September 2016

Kenny denies he's 'blown it' and defends series of gaffes on campaign trail

Cormac McQuinn and Kevin Doyle

Published 24/02/2016 | 14:08

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Leon Nealleon/Getty Images
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Leon Nealleon/Getty Images

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has denied he's "blown it" by not calling the election last November saying if he had it would have "ruptured the link with the Labour Party".

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He also defended his performance on the campaign trail after a series of gaffes saying the "hallmark of leadership is how you move on from issues that arise."

Mr Kenny said priorities for him if he is returned to power are solving the housing crisis and problems in the health system.

He was joined in Dublin's Bord Gáis Energy Theatre by six Fine Gael ministers including Michael Noonan, Frances Fitzgerald and Leo Varadkar for the last major press event of the campaign.

With mixed results in the polls over the last few weeks, Mr Kenny was asked if he had "blown it" by not going to the country three months ago. 

"It would have been very simple to go in November after the Budget and the strong feeling that was there but I'm very happy that I've done the right thing here," Mr Kenny replied.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Fine Gael and Taniaste Joan Burton the RTÉ Claire Byrne Live Leaders Debate
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Fine Gael and Taniaste Joan Burton the RTÉ Claire Byrne Live Leaders Debate

"First of all if I'd gone in November you'd have ruptured the link with the Labour Party particularly after saying that you'd go the full distance."

He also pointed out that legislation including the Finance Bill and the Legal Service Bill would not have been completed.

"And people would have been rightly critical of not having waited for the results of thee Banking Inquiry," he added.

"You might argue and say, you know, we could have been fighting this campaign in hail and sleet and rain and snow and everything else.

"So perhaps next time that the call is being made it might come with a little more surprise," Mr Kenny said.

It was put to Mr Kenny that he had made a number of gaffes during the campaign including the length of time it took him to rule out a post-election deal with Independent Michael Lowry, the 'whingers' remark, and his answer in the last leaders' debate to the question on the appointment by Fine Gael of John McNulty to a State board.

He was asked which one he would erase from voters memories if he could.

"Actually you deal with all these things. I make mistakes but I'm man enough to acknowledge and accept responsibility for all these things. I think the hallmark of leadership is how you move on from issues that arise."

Mr Kenny said there are three problem areas that he would like to fix if he is returned to power

"One is the housing and homeless situation, two is the health issue and three is specifically mental health and the challenges that so many people face everyday."

Asked if he would deliver on each of those issues he replied: "yes".

Finance minister Michael Noonan warned of the risk to Ireland's recovery if a stable government isn't returned after the election.

Health minister Leo Varadkar referenced his party's history in his contribution.

"Just a few weeks before he died our founding father Michael Collins set out his vision for a free and independent Ireland and in that he said our object in building up the country economically must not be lost sight of and that object is social justice for all.

"And Fine Gael today in this centenary year holds to those values true," he said.

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