Sunday 21 January 2018

'It's not an international bout' claims Enda Kenny ahead of 'knockout' leaders debate

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

TONIGHT's debate between the four main party leaders is not "any kind of an international bout", Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said when asked if he'd land a knock-out blow on Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams.

Speaking this morning, Mr Kenny did hit back at the Fianna Fáil leader Mr Martin who claimed he had been running scared saying he is looking forward to the opportunity to remind the public about what he branded the "calamitous" former government.

Mr Kenny was addressing the media at a creche in Tuam, Co Galway where he was announcing details of Fine Gael's plans for services for children.

"This is not to be turned into any kind of international bout," he said of tonight's TV3/Newstalk debate.

"This is an opportunity to say to people – here's our plan. This is where we're focused on the future and here's how we intend to do it."

Put to him that Mr Martin said he was running scared, Mr Kenny replied:

"I've been debating with Micheál Martin for the last five years in the Dáil every Tuesday and Wednesday.

And he hit back saying:"Micheál seems to go from calmness to desperation.

"I'm looking forward to the debate this evening and my focus is on the future and certainly to remind people of the calamitous state that we were left in by his administration which ran from office, which couldn't get ministers to accept responsibility...

"So I've a few things to say to Micheál as well."

He accused half of the Fianna Fáil party of wanting to join Sinn Féin in government and added: "It's not about me and Micheál Martin. It's about you, the people of the country.

"The TV3 debate is an important element of our discussion and I have many things that I hope to be able to say about the journey we've come on and where we want o be for the future.

"So let them not be sounding off down in Cork at all," he added.

Fine Gael's 'investing in early years plan' promises and additional eight weeks paid leave for new parents by 2021 and a €2,000 annual subsidy for children aged nine months to three years in childcare facilities.

Earlier Mr Kenny handed in his nomination papers in Castlebar Courthouse, officially becoming a candidate in the 2016 election.

He was asked if it would be his last time handing in nomination papers or would he run again.

"Are Galway going to win the All-Ireland in the next few years or will it be ourselves? Who knows what the future holds."

"My commitment is if we're re-elected on the 26th that I'll serve a full term as Taoiseach and I would be honored to do so. However, it's a matter for the people to make their decision." 

Mr Kenny faces Mr Martin, Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and Tánaiste Joan Burton at 9pm tonight on TV3 and Newstalk Radio.

After leaving Tuam, Mr Kenny's next stop was the Chanelle pharmaceuticals plant in Loughrea.

He toured the lab at the veterinary and human drugs manufacturer and announced a €70m investment by the firm that will see 170 jobs created in the next five years.

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