Wednesday 24 January 2018

Fine Gael will 'hit the ground running', says Kenny

Ministers in a Fine Gael government would be barred from constituency work in the first 100 days to focus on their new responsibilities.

With political parties hosting final press conferences ahead of a broadcasting blackout, leader Enda Kenny detailed targets for the party in the first months of being handed power.

Mr Kenny said every ambassador and top Government trade and business representative would be summoned home and fully briefed on marketing Ireland overseas.

"There is no time to waste. There is not an hour to be lost, and Ireland urgently needs to get back to work," he said.

"That's why if the people decide to elect Fine Gael in government, we need to hit the ground running."

Mr Kenny outlined 25 steps the party would take in the first 100 days in power, including revisiting the International Monetary Fund/European Union deal with other European leaders, cutting the number of TDs, abolishing the Seanad, lengthening Dail sitting time and setting out a jobs creation bill.

All non-executive bank directors who sat on boards of banks now under state control before September 2008 would also be replaced and at least 20 state bodies would be scrapped.

Fine Gael said ambassadors and the main IDA representatives overseas would be brought home and briefed on Ireland`s marketing strategy.

"If elected, I will present a progress report at the end of the 100-day period," Mr Kenny said.

"The last 14 years of Government have been a tragic waste. Ireland cannot afford to waste any more time.

"That's why Fine Gael, if elected to government, will get working from day one."

Fresh from the final television debate of the campaign, the party leaders continued their frantic scramble for votes during round-up press conferences before the broadcasting ban on election coverage begins at 2pm tomorrow.

More than 950 voters on islands off Donegal and Mayo were registered to cast their vote ahead of Friday's national ballot.

Polling stations opened on Arranmore, Gola, Inishboffin, Inishfree and Tory Island off Donegal, and Clare Island, Inishbiggle and Inishturk off Mayo.

Voters on the islands off Galway will cast their ballots tomorrow.

Fine Gael remain the favourite to lead the new government, with the latest Red C poll for bookmakers Paddy Power putting the party on 40pc, Labour on 18pc, Fianna Fail on 15pc and Sinn Fein 10pc. The number of undecideds now stand at 13pc.

An Irish Independent/MillwardBrown Landsdowne poll painted a similar picture, with Fine Gael on 38pc, Labour on 20pc, Fianna Fail on 14pc and Sinn Fein on 11pc.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore again urged people to vote Labour to rule out a single-party Fine Gael government.

"We have set out a very, very detailed programme for this election," Mr Gilmore said.

"And now as we enter the last couple of days of it, where the election is settling down to is a choice.

"And it's a choice between a government which would be a single party Fine Gael government or a coalition government of Labour and Fine Gael in whatever combination the people decide."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin continued his attack on Fine Gael policies from last night's debate, claiming that the party had failed to put forward a realistic plan to restore confidence.

"The five-point plan is full of black holes, ill-thought out ideas and poll tested policies that are designed to win votes, and not solve the serious problems we face today," Mr Martin said.

"In the debate, the people got to see some of the fundamental differences between my party and the other parties. Enda Kenny could not say where his €6.5bn in spending cuts would fall."

Under the shadow of James Larkin's monument on O'Connell Street, Dublin, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams called on voters to take a stand against the other parties.

"Fine Gael and Labour are committed to the same bad choices - billions of taxpayers' money for toxic banks and cuts for those on low and middle incomes," Mr Adams said.

"There is a better way. Through job creation, tax reform and eliminating waste Sinn Fein have shown how the deficit can be reduced over six years."

Press Association

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