Hopes of early vote unlikely, concedes Kenny
FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny has admitted that the prospect of an early general election has "receded somewhat".
It comes after he made a series of calls last year for the Government to hold a general election before its term ended in 2012, saying he was ready for one "today, tomorrow or whenever it happens".
But yesterday Mr Kenny acknowledged that the current Government was likely to remain in power for the present.
"I agree that the probability of an early election has receded somewhat.
"But the fact they have struggled through three Budgets and the NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) business doesn't mean we're not facing into huge difficulties up ahead," he said.
Mr Kenny had put down a motion of no confidence in Taoiseach Brian Cowen's coalition Government last June in the wake of its disastrous showing in the local, European and Dail by-elections.
But the motion was defeated and Mr Cowen subsequently managed to clear three crucial hurdles -- renegotiating the Programme for Government with the Greens, passing the second Lisbon Treaty referendum and getting the NAMA legislation through the Dail and Seanad.
Mr Kenny said the people were still "lying in wait" for the Government at the next general election, after experiencing forced emigration, housing repossessions, increasing dole queues and the decimation of pensions.
"The strength of this Government is its fragility. They're actually terrified," he said.
Fianna Fail Wexford-based senator Lisa McDonald said that Mr Kenny's comments about the diminishing prospects of an early general election were a "tacit acceptance" that the Government's policies were working.
"I think from Fine Gael's point of view, it's the closest thing we'll ever get to a compliment from Enda Kenny that we're going in the right direction.
"As tough as the choices have been, we're all pulling together now," she said.
Ms McDonald also said she expected the Government to serve its full term until 2012.
But on RTE's 'This Week' programme, Mr Kenny increased the pressure on the Government to hold an inquiry into the causes of the banking crisis.
He said he was prepared to nominate former party leader Michael Noonan to lead an all-party committee investigation.
He said it was necessary to find out what went wrong in the banking sector.
"This affects every single person. The Government are afraid to have an inquiry.
"Every minister says of course we'll have an inquiry, but not yet," he said.
Mr Kenny said he agreed with President Mary McAleese's claim that "greed" in the corporate sector had played a part in the economic collapse.
"A small few inside a golden circle -- closely associated with the majority party in Government, Fianna Fail -- have walked away with bulging pockets out of this, to the detriment of every other taxpayer in the country. That's not the sense of values I have, and that's why we need an inquiry now into why this happened," he said.