Saturday 25 February 2017

The Spin Zone: All the talk of bad Greeks to distract from Trojan Horse

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD & Tanaiste Joan Burton TD following the dissolution of the Dáil Credit: Collins
Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD & Tanaiste Joan Burton TD following the dissolution of the Dáil Credit: Collins

Maybe all the talk of the Greeks was designed to distract us from the growing suspicion that there is a big Trojan Horse in the Coalition's re-election plan.

Fine Gael and the Labour Party don't agree on much these days except that everybody else is bad.

In fact even the casual observer might be led to think that Tánaiste Joan Burton is going out of her way to create policies that conflict with those presented by Enda Kenny.

It makes sense for the junior coalition partner to try to infuriate the bigger party. Every time Fine Gael reacts it keeps the Labour Party relevant. It happened just hours after the election was called when Ms Burton told reporters to ask Health Minister Leo Varadkar why he wasn't hiring enough doctors to allow for free GP for all.

Varadkar's response was tame at best. Instead of the usual firebrand we're used to, he said they might have discussed the issue but as constituency colleagues they have lots of meetings so he couldn't remember.

The truth is that behind the scenes, Fine Gael ministers have been told to avoid any election clashes with Labour for fear it will undermine its core message of stability. So when Labour say we can have full unemployment by 2018, Fine Gael won't be rubbishing the idea despite their own policies saying it will take until 2020.

The two parties are set to differ on pension hikes, PRSI, wages and the Eighth Amendment - but all the while Fine Gael will say that they respect the Labour Party's view and that policy stuff can all be decided after the votes have been cast.

In the meantime we can expect both sides to focus on the one thing they do agree on. Yesterday was a day to remind the good voters of Ireland about the bad voters of Greece.

With questions rolling in about the gaping holes in Fine Gael's economic plan Michael Noonan reverted back to the stock answer that if we don't' re-elected Fine Gael to "keep the recovery going" there'll be no money.

"This isn't theory, if you want to see the working example have a look at Greece.

"Sinn Féin were very interested in Greece for a while, they used to go out there visiting and they were out there participating in the elections, and their march to the Greek embassy.

"Remember all the Greek flags that were going around? They will be going out as spot prizes at Sinn Féin's dances north and south in the future," he said, sending the assembly media into fits of laughter and successfully distracting from the 'fiscal space'.

In Drogheda Ms Burton was saying she wasn't bothered by Labour's latest disappointing poll figures.

She said people "will not want situations that we've seen in Spain or Greece where they've struggled to form a government".

Beware of Coalitions bearing gifts.

Irish Independent

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