Thursday 8 December 2016

Fine Gael and Labour on track to form government

Ralph Riegel, Michael Brennan and Fionnan Sheahan

Published 31/01/2011 | 05:00

FG leader Enda Kenny surrounded by female election candidates Catherine Byrne of Dublin South Central, Marcella Corcoran of Laois-Offaly, Mary Mitchell O'Connor of Dun Laoghaire, and Fidelma Healy Eames of Galway West
FG leader Enda Kenny surrounded by female election candidates Catherine Byrne of Dublin South Central, Marcella Corcoran of Laois-Offaly, Mary Mitchell O'Connor of Dun Laoghaire, and Fidelma Healy Eames of Galway West

FINE Gael and the Labour Party are still well on the way to forming the next government, according to the first opinion polls of the election campaign.

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New Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin yesterday described his party's small recovery in opinion poll support as "a turning point" in the General Election 2011 campaign.

But his embattled party is fighting an uphill battle to even overtake Labour as the second biggest party in the country.

Fianna Fail was on 16pc support in two polls at the weekend, Fine Gael was on low-to-mid 30s and the Labour Party on low-to-mid 20s.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny even refused to be drawn on whether his party was on track for an overall majority.

"Fine Gael's track record over the last number of elections has been one of consistent and solid progress. We are going to fight for every vote and every seat," he said.

And he poured cold water on Mr Martin's suggestion that Fianna Fail would back a minority Fine Gael government.

"I wonder why he said that. I don't see any circumstances in which Fine Gael will be doing a deal with Fianna Fail."

Mr Kenny said his "team" would take the fight to the people.

"We're looking for the maximum number of votes and the maximum number of seats because we believe that we have the best plan and the best team," he said.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore insisted it was still a "three-horse race" and that he could still become Taoiseach as leader of a Labour-Fine Gael coalition.

"This election is an election that we have never seen before in this country and past form and traditions and indicators are no clue as to what will happen on polling day," he said.

Objective

"Our objective is to positively make the case for a Labour-led government," he said.

Mr Martin admitted Fianna Fail has a long way to go, but he insisted there are signs a fight-back has begun.

However, he said Fianna Fail will not be complacent about expecting their traditional late surge in support.

"I am pleased with the polls in that they do show that aspect of it and a stabilisation in support for FF," he said.

"But it is a long journey and 16pc is simply not enough from our perspective. We are underdogs going into this campaign -- there is no doubt about that," he said.

"We need to convince many people that supported FF in the past that they can renew their faith and trust in us. That will be the challenge for us, it will be a key objective," he added.

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Irish Independent

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