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Leaders make last plea to public for votes


A protest outside the Department of the Taoiseach in Dublin yesterday

A protest outside the Department of the Taoiseach in Dublin yesterday

A protest outside the Department of the Taoiseach in Dublin yesterday

The five main party leaders last night delivered their final pitches to the electorate.

Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin appealed to loyal supporters to come out and vote for the party in what is the "most important general election in a generation".

He honed in on Fine Gael for his fiercest attacks.

"Fine Gael has offered the election a clever public relations strategy based on a five-point plan which is a marketing trick. It lacks substance, it has few credible initiatives and it flies in the face of economic realities," Mr Martin said.

And he urged people who voted Fianna Fail in the past to reflect on their vote today and to give it to the Fianna Fail candidate and not an Independent.

"I think Fianna Fail will be a vital force in the next parliament and can make a vital contribution to national policy and implementing the kinds of ideas that will help Ireland. we would argue independents can't do that as effectively," he said.

In the Fine Gael camp, Enda Kenny called on voters to turn their anger into action and vote against the current Fianna Fail- led administration.

He claimed the country was living with a national heartbreak and was still reeling from the "national confidence trick" pulled on it by the current government, the bankers and developers.

"If this election is to take the political pulse of our nation, I want every beat and every vote to show a nation that looks with hope, generosity and courage to the future, and not with regret or hurt and bitterness of the past," he said.

Voters, he said, had an opportunity to vote for something, as opposed to voting against something.

One-party rule and a power monopoly under Fine Gael was what Eamon Gilmore warned against.

"The choice basically boils down now to a choice between the election of a single-party Fine Gael government, one-party rule and monopoly power to one party, or a government that is fair and balanced, which would be a coalition government between Labour and Fine Gael," he said.

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"If Fine Gael takes power alone, voters will discover there are more than five points to Fine Gael's five-point plan, which includes cuts to child benefit, a graduate tax and stealth taxes," he said.

Representation in the next Dail is what Green Party leader John Gormley wanted.

Fine Gael and Labour are now "home and dry" so voters could make their vote count today by voting for the Greens, he said.


"I am asking voters to give their Green candidate a number one preference to keep them ahead of other parties and to ensure the Greens are represented in the next Dail," he said.

"We are ready to work with other parties in government. If voters decide we are in opposition, we will constructively oppose the government -- but also back them when they are doing the right thing for Irish people."

The Green Party is standing in all 43 constituencies, and none of its key candidates had chosen the easy option of not standing for re-election, Mr Gormley said.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams last night claimed that his party would put "real political backbone into the Dail".

He claimed it was now time for voters to make a stand.

"Sinn Fein wants to return a very strong team to the Dail, to work as a strong voice in opposition or as a voice in government, depending on the outcome," he said.