Saturday 17 August 2019

Fine Gael ‘to win next general election’

But Michael Ring did not rule out the possibility of a Fine Gael-Green Party coalition.

Rural and Community Development Minister Michael Ring has predicted Fine Gael will win the next general election (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
Rural and Community Development Minister Michael Ring has predicted Fine Gael will win the next general election (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

By Michelle Devane, PA

Fine Gael will win the next general election, Michael Ring has predicted.

But the Rural and Community Development Minister did not rule out the possibility of a Fine Gael-Green Party coalition after the next general election, adding that it would depend on their policies.

“Fine Gael is going to win more seats and we are now looking at every single constituency in the country,” Mr Ring said.

“We are going to be looking for candidates that can stand for Fine Gael. I believe Fine Gael will win the election and are going to win the election.”

He added: “People will have to make a decision when the election comes – do they want somebody who wrecked the economy or do they want someone who brought the economy back?”

His comments come as a new opinion poll suggests Fianna Fail is more popular than Fine Gael for a second consecutive month in a row.

The Behaviour and Attitudes poll for the Sunday Times showed support for Fianna Fail up 2% to 30%, while Fine Gael was at 26%, up 3%.

It found that Sinn Fein had recovered some support, up 2% to 14%, but the Green Party had dropped 4% to 7%.

Asked whether a coalition with the Green Party might be on the table after the next general election, Mr Ring said Fine Gael would have to wait to see what their policies are.

The Mayo TD said the Greens had “some good policies” but he said some of their policies would not “sit” with him or with people in rural Ireland.

“It is alright talking about climate change and carbon tax, it is alright talking about electric cars and all that. But there is no point in me coming from Dublin in an electric car if I do not have the points between Westport and Dublin. I could be stuck on the roads six or seven hours a day,” he said.

“We have to get the infrastructure in place first. There’s a lot of work to be done before we can start talking about a lot of that.”

Mr Ring added that Fine Gael was committed to climate change but it had to be done in a “reasonable fashion” and that they had to make sure that the public were on board.

“We learned that before from water and from other issues,” he said.

“You have to bring people with you, educate them, talk to people and have to show them the good and the bad and the pain and the good of climate change.”

The Green Party has been celebrating a surge of membership since its success in the recent local and European elections in May, when 37 councillors and two MEPs were elected, but Mr Ring insisted Fine Gael had also performed well.

“To be fair to Fine Gael, they got 23% of the vote, the same as Fianna Fail. You’d always expect the Government to get a bit of a kicking in the mid-term. They didn’t. The Greens took a few seats off us, that’s fine. We actually gained 20 seats,” he said.

He added that in the European election Fine Gael “went with four and came back with five”, which he said they had “got no credit for” at all.

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section