Wednesday 22 January 2020

Philip Ryan: 'Gloves finally off as Martin comes out swinging ahead of election promising plenty of mudslinging and rhetoric'

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The gloves came off yesterday as the minority Government died a sudden albeit long-expected death.

Any confidence was gone and the only thing supplied was bucket loads of political rhetoric and mudslinging.

It goes on all the time but it's more pronounced now that we know it will have an impact. Micheál Martin came out swinging yesterday morning, throwing everything he had at Fine Gael. Martin had to get in on the election action after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar did his reveal-all interview on RTÉ Radio One on Sunday during which he really didn't reveal all that much. But at least we know he knows when the election is, or at least he would have us believe he knows when it is.

Most ministers say they don't know what the date is, so maybe the Taoiseach's still making his mind up and it suits him for us to believe he has already done so.

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After all, in the past year he has really given Martin a run for his money in the dithering stakes.

Most of his decisions are crowd-sourced and it is good to take advice before doing anything in politics, or any other field for that matter.

When he has finally made those decisions they haven't always worked out that great. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt and trust that he does know the date. Trust is also going to be a key part of the Taoiseach's election campaign. Do you trust Fine Gael to run the country for the next five years, is what you'll be asked.

Or would you put your trust in Micheál Martin and his team of TDs that you would probably struggle to name if put on the spot?

Do you trust Fianna Fáil TDs who oversaw the collapse of the economy? Would you let them near Government Buildings again after the record levels of unemployment, emigration and sheer despair we all endured?

On the other hand, there's those in Fianna Fáil who weren't part of those Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen-era governments. But given they don't have any ministerial experience, would you put your faith in them?

Fianna Fáil will also want to know if you trust Fine Gael. Do you trust Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to figure out the housing crisis and allow you and your partner to leave your parents' house before you turn 40? Do you think you'll ever be able to buy a first home while he's Housing Minister?

Do you think homelessness figures will ever drop if Mr Murphy remains in the Department of Housing?

What commitment will Leo Varadkar give on Mr Murphy during the campaign? If people are voting for Fine Gael, are they voting for Mr Murphy to remain in the Department of Housing?

Fianna Fáil will also wants to know if you trust Health Minister Simon Harris to ensure your elderly relative will not be left lying on a trolley for hours on end along a cramped hospital corridor if they fall ill.

Harris said he "hoped to God" he would remain Health Minister after the election. He spends a lot of time criticising the Catholic Church so perhaps he knows he's not going to get a divine intervention in a future Cabinet reshuffle.

Fine Gael will parade its 'Troika of Trust' during the election campaign. Internal Fine Gael polling says Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Paschal Donohoe are the ones the voters take to the most. Prudent Paschal and Capable Coveney will be Fine Gael's trump cards when it comes to putting their best foot forward.

Harris will not be kept in the cupboard but don't be surprised if you don't see too much of Murphy on the campaign trail.

Fianna Fáil has solid Dáil performers but Martin has a tendency to rely on the same faces. Perhaps it's time for him to let the chains off backbenchers since it's a make or break election for him.

Irish Independent

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