Friday 9 December 2016

Michael Noonan: Numbers will 'stack up' so coalition is returned to Government

Mr Noonan said his party is not contemplating the prospect of doing business with Fianna Fáil

Niall O’Connor and Philip Ryan

Published 22/01/2016 | 20:15

The Minister for Finance Michael Noonan T.D.
The Minister for Finance Michael Noonan T.D.

FINE Gael and Labour will “make sure the numbers stack up” to ensure the current Coalition will be returned, according to Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

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Mr Noonan today said his party is not contemplating the prospect of doing business with Fianna Fáil.

Speaking at the Fine Gael Árd Fheis in City West, the Limerick TD also said the economy is “reasonably well positioned” to deal with any downturn in the world economy.

“And while we’d be aware of some external risks, you can’t just stop doing things because there are some risks,” Mr Noonan told reporters.

And Mr Noonan insisted he is only interested in ensuring the current Coalition is returned – despite Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald refusing to categorically rule out a future FG/FF Coalition during an interview on ‘Newstalk’.

“Our proposition to the people is to re-elect the present government and we are not thinking outside of that space,” Mr Noonan said.

“We are not into speculation, we are going to make sure during the campaign that the numbers do stack up,” he added.

Mr Noonan said it was "interesting" to discuss who Fine Gael might form the Government with after the General Election but insisted it was an "idle exercise".The minister said the “Fianna Fáil option” will not arise because voters will return the current Government.

“Our proposition to the electorate is to return the Government and the reason we are doing that is because it is the present Government of Fine Gael and Labour that has initiated the recovery and brought the recovery to a point where we are now growing at 7pc, where unemployment is down well below the European average at 8.7pc,” he said.

“We'll balance the budget in two years time so things are moving in the right direction. It was a combination of agreed policies between Fine Gael and Labour that has done that so what we are saying to the electorate is elect the present Government and we are not going beyond that with speculation about any other options whatsoever,” he added

Mr Noonan dismissed suggestions that Fine Gael had opened talks with Independents about forming a future government.

“We weren't but if a number of independents are associating themselves with Fine Gael tonight we must be doing very well,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Noonan played down tonight’s security alert, which tpook place after a hollowed bullet was discovered around the stage which Taoiseach Enda Kenny delivered his first address.

“But I’ve been coming to Fine Gael Árdfheiseanna since the seventies, there are frequent security (alerts). We haven’t had a real one yet.”

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