Wednesday 21 February 2018

Enda Kenny: I didn't accuse public of being stupid about economic affairs

Taoiseach Enda Kenny meets up with 17-week-old Dorothy O’Connell and her mother, Fine Gael candidate for Dublin Bay South Kate O’Connell. Photo: Barbara Lindberg
Taoiseach Enda Kenny meets up with 17-week-old Dorothy O’Connell and her mother, Fine Gael candidate for Dublin Bay South Kate O’Connell. Photo: Barbara Lindberg
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he rejects "completely" Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams's claim that he was calling the Irish public "stupid" when he said people don't understand "economic jargon".

At the launch of Sinn Féin's campaign, Mr Adams noted how earlier this week Mr Kenny said he didn't want to get into what he called "economic jargon which the vast majority of people don't understand" when speaking about how Fine Gael would fund election promises.

"So there you have it. According to the Taoiseach, the people are stupid," Mr Adams said.

Speaking at a campaign event in Mallow, Co Cork, Mr Kenny hit back at the Sinn Féin leader's remarks, bringing up his repeated denials of having been a member of the IRA.

"I would never accuse the Irish people of being in any way stupid. I disregard and reject his allegation completely," he said.

"The Sinn Féin party have a tendency to repeat the message all the time.

"I understand that I don't like to speak jargon myself but the mantra from Sinn Féin has been to keep saying, irrespective of whether it's right or whether it's wrong: 'Gerry was never a member of the IRA.'"


"I look forward to having opportunities to discuss these and other matters with Deputy Adams," Mr Kenny added, referring to the upcoming debates.

He also added that he hopes the Green Party will be allowed to participate in the debates.

The Green Party was yesterday given leave for a judicial review of RTÉ's decision to exclude it from a televised leaders' debate.

Earlier, Mr Kenny gave an interview to RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland' where he appeared to be at odds with Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who earlier this week said that a proposal to provide free GP care to the whole population won't be in the Fine Gael manifesto.

It has been extended to under-sixes and over-70s.

Put to him that Mr Varadkar said the plan would be unlikely to be implemented in the next five years, Mr Kenny initially said: "I think he's being very realistic in the sense [of] the report he has showing that we need 2,000 extra doctors by 2025."

"I think the discussions that we're on now to bring it to under-12s will move from that to under-18s. I think that's logical and pragmatic."

Mr Kenny was later pressed on when he thought free GP care for all could be achieved.

"We failed to deliver it in the lifetime of this government and we hope to deliver it in the lifetime of the next government," Mr Kenny said.

But it was later clarified that he meant free GP care for all under-18s.

The Taoiseach also indicated that a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment is likely to take place.

"It's 33 years since the Eighth Amendment was introduced. Our society has changed completely. Many brave women have come forward with their stories about the trauma, the hurt and the sensitivities of all of this," he said.

The Taoiseach committed to setting up a citizens' assembly on the issue within six months if re-elected.

"I think this is an issue where all of the legal, medical and human stories need to be taken into consideration."

Irish Independent

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