Wednesday 24 January 2018

Gilmore accuses Kenny of leaving door open for FF

Fiach Kelly and Michael Brennan

THE war of words between Fine Gael and Labour intensified yesterday in a sign of the intense competition to become the biggest party in the next Government.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore accused Fine Gael of leaving the door open to accepting Fianna Fail's support in government, but was reprimanded by Fine Gael for "not understanding plain English" as a result.

And the parties clashed again over their economic policy, with Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan accusing Labour of trying to "kick the can down the road" by seeking a further year to reduce the public finance deficit to 3pc of GDP.

"It will add up to €5bn to the national debt compared with Fine Gael's Budget plans, resulting in up to an extra €290m annual debt servicing costs," he said.

It is a reversal of the situation in the 2007 General Election, when Fine Gael and Labour joined forces and agreed a common policy position to win power back from Fianna Fail.

A Labour spokesman said his party was in competition with Fine Gael for votes.

"If they attack us, we will take them on," he said.

And the message was similar from Fine Gael yesterday, with the party saying it would subject Labour's policies to as much scrutiny as those of Fianna Fail and other parties.

"If Labour publish policy which we feel needs to be exposed for its flaws, we will do that," a spokesman said.

Mr Gilmore upped the ante yesterday when he said that statements from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael had left open the possibility of co-operation between them after the election.

"It does seem to me that some of the choreography in recent days has certainly overlooked the prospect that Fine Gael would allow Fianna Fail back into government through the side door," Mr Gilmore said yesterday at his party's election headquarters in Dublin.

It came after Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin suggested at the weekend that his party could support a minority Fine Gael government -- but this idea was rejected by FG leader Enda Kenny.

Irish Independent

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