Friday 22 September 2017

The Front Bench Podcast 3: The Harry Potter of Irish politics and a possible Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition

Independent.ie counts down to the general election with insights from some of the country's most experienced former politicians

Pat Rabbitte has compared Stephen Donnelly to Harry Potter after the Social Democrat TD said he would reduce the cost of living.

Speaking on Independent.ie’s Front Bench podcast, the former Labour leader was critical of the Independents and Sinn Fein for their ‘negative politics’ that would never stack up if they were actually in government.

Labour’s campaign message was also criticised by Rabbitte.

“People resent being told to keep the recovery going when, for many families, they haven’t seen the benefits of it yet,” he told Irish Independent Editor, Fionnan Sheahan.

“People know what they’re against and what displeases them. The party needs to get back to focusing on its core policies of what it has done and will do for people,”

Also on the panel was Fine Gael’s former Justice Minister, Nora Owen who was similarly critical of her party’s struggles to get its message out there.

“It’s easier in opposition to point out what hasn’t been done,” she said. “But Fine Gael needs to have more voices than just Enda or Michael Noonan out there, telling people what’s been done and what more they can do.”

“If you’re losing, you need to change the message,” agreed former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. “People out there are feeling aggrieved when they hear ‘keep it all going’ but yet in many cases well-qualified people are on contract jobs and on abysmal money.”

Looking ahead to what kind of government could be formed, Nora Owen did admit that if push came to shove, and in the national interest, she would agree to a Fine Gael-Fianna Fail coalition.

Bertie was sceptical as to whether the Fianna Fail party would let it happen but did admit that cicumstances can change people’s minds and ‘it’s not over until the final whistle.’

The Front Bench podcast, presented by Irish Independent Editor, Fionnan Sheahan, is counting down to the general election each week with Bertie Ahern, Nora Owen and Pat Rabbitte.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and Independent.ie.

Fionnan Sheahan, Editor of the Irish Independent with former politicians Bertie Ahern, Pat Rabbitte and Nora Owen after taking part in the Irish Independent podcast
Fionnan Sheahan, Editor of the Irish Independent with former politicians Bertie Ahern, Pat Rabbitte and Nora Owen after taking part in the Irish Independent podcast

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