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Fianna Fail Nostalgia Fine Gael Stability Labour Change Green Party Survival Sinn Fein Credit

What Taoiseach Brian Cowen said: "I have always said that the genius of the Good Friday Agreement is that we agreed to go on a journey together, without predetermining the destination in advance."

What he meant: Channelling attention to one of the outstanding achievements of Fianna Fail-led governments, Mr Cowen harked back to past glories in a bid to accentuate a more positive legacy.

Fine Gael Stability

What Enda Kenny said: "High taxes kill jobs. We will keep taxes -- particularly income taxes -- down."

What he meant: Playing for economic stability and certainty -- this was a pointed message for Fine Gael's likely bedfellows in Labour, who favour higher taxes.

Labour Change

What Eamon Gilmore said: "It is clear that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are comfortable with each other's policies."

What he meant: Ramping up allegations that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are part of 'old politics' and that Labour represents new thinking, new ideas.

Green Party Survival

What John Gormley said: "It is very important we have strong representation of the Green Party in the next government."

What he meant: Pleading for an avoidance of political wipeout as the Greens prepare for a massive battle to retain six seats on just 2pc support.

Sinn Fein Credit

What Caoimhghin O Caolain said: "The election of Pearse Doherty set in train the events that have now resulted in the fall of this Government."

What he meant: Trying to take credit for forcing the Donegal by-election, which put the Government's majority under increased pressure -- and linking that increased political instability to the calling of an early general election.

Irish Independent