Friday 28 October 2016

'We are going to have an election early in the Spring. E-A-R-L-Y, early in the spring' - Enda Kenny spells out date of next election

Niall O'Connor in Madrid

Published 22/10/2015 | 14:03

“Now listen to me, get this very straight.
“Now listen to me, get this very straight.

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has today repeatedly insisted that the General Election will be held in the early part of spring.

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While the prospect of a November election has been ruled out, there has been speculation that Mr Kenny could hold on until late March or April before going to the polls.

But when asked about the date of the election at an event in Madrid today, Mr Kenny replied:

“Now listen to me, get this very straight. We are going to have an election early in the Spring.  E-A-R-L-Y, early in the spring.”

The remarks significantly raise the prospect that the election will be in February and certainly before St Patrick’s Day.

Meanwhile, senior Fine Gael figures, including the Taoiseach, have been actively lobbying EU politicians in a bid to secure a prestigious position for junior minister Dara Murphy.

Mr Murphy has been the centre of the controversy after he and his wife were escorted to Dublin airport in a garda car by on duty officers after his car broke down in the middle of the night.

The Cork TD has been proposed as a vice president of the European Peoples’ Party (EPP), of which Fine Gael is a member. Enda Kenny, former Taoiseach John Bruton and Renua leader Lucinda Creighton have all held the position in the past. Political sources today said the EPP post provides valuable access to EU decision making.

However, it’s emerged that Mr Murphy’s nomination has sparked tensions within Fine Gael.

Party sources say Dublin MEP Brian Hayes and Midlands-North-West MEP Mairéad McGuinness both expressed interest in the post in recent weeks. EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has also been spoken about as potentially holding the post.

There has been some disquiet within Fine Gael that Mr Murphy is being put forward given that he has a smaller profile within European circles than either Mr Hayes or Ms McGuinness. Any failure to be elected to the post would prove to be a serious embarrassment for both Mr Murphy and Fine Gael.

But speaking in Madrid, Mr Kenny staunchly defended the decision to put Mr Murphy forward. He said there are no divisions within the party and that the recent controversy has no bearing on Mr Murphy’s record in this instance.

“We’re a small country, Commissioner Hogan is a very busy man, Mairead McGuinness as European Parliament vice-president and an MEP is a very busy MEP. Dara Murphy is the only Minister nominated to stand for the vice presidency. He is our Minister for European Affairs. He conducts his business in German and in French and in English. He’s a vital link between the EPP, Ireland and Britain in the forthcoming referendum ,”

He is an outstanding candidate, and he has full total and absolute support of Mairead McGuinness and Phil Hogan.

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