Fine Gael facing national test, says Brian Hayes
The Taoiseach last night delivered a rousing speech at the party's selection convention in Dublin, urging hundreds of members to "show conviction" during the upcoming local and European elections.
Mr Hayes said he is taking nothing for granted as he was formally unveiled as the party's euro candidate in the capital.
The Dublin South West TD described May's poll as a "national test" for Fine Gael and left the door open for a return to the Dail.
Mr Hayes is widely expected to top the poll in the three-seater constituency, which looks set to be contested by more female candidates than male.
"I passionately want Fine Gael to do well in the elections in May. Because winning in May means that Fine Gael can win in 2016. And that must be our goal – two successive periods in Government," he said at the Alexander Hotel.
During his speech, Mr Kenny made references to the performances of several cabinet ministers, including James Reilly, Leo Varadkar and Frances Fitzgerald. He told Dr Reilly that "we will give you all the help you need" in what will come as a relief to the embattled Health Minister.
Speaking of Mr Hayes' involvement in the infamous leadership heave against him in 2010, he added: "Brian Hayes is going to make a brilliant MEP. I like him."
Mr Hayes was unanimously selected as the party's Dublin candidate after senator Catherine Noone withdrew from the process.
"If strategy had been to run two candidates...I would have added a lot to the ticket. This was not my opportunity, I accept that," she said.
Mr Hayes strongly criticised Sinn Fein, whose candidate Lynn Boylan is also set to be in the running for a seat.
"Sinn Fein's go-it-alone North Korean economic policy, would have permanently destabilised this country. But that of course is their agenda. Every job announcement, every positive investment; is bad news for Sinn Fein. They need Ireland to fail because their political agenda is based on creating maximum political chaos."