Friday 23 February 2018

Fine Gael, Labour say voters must get their poll

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Fine Gael's Enda Kenny said a General Election would provide 'clarity and certainty' essential to the country's economic recovery

FINE Gael and Labour last night refused to give any guarantee they will ensure the Budget passes next month.

Both opposition parties said they would not give a "blank cheque" to the Government in forming the Budget and would see what's in it before deciding whether to back it or vote against it.

And Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore both called for an immediate General Election.

Mr Gilmore continued to disagree with the €6bn package of cuts and taxes envisaged for next year. He still believes an adjustment of €4.5bn is more appropriate, despite the €6bn already agreed with the European Commission.

Mr Gilmore said it was essential a new government be elected as soon as possible.

"My preference would be for a dissolution of the Dail today and the holding of a General Election at the earliest possible date," he added.

The Labour leader also admitted the likely outcome of the General Election would be a Fine Gael and Labour coalition.

In a statement, Mr Kenny said a General Election would provide "clarity and certainty" essential to the country's economic recovery.

"The move by the Green Party this morning was presumably intended to provide clarity in terms of the date for an election -- what has actually happened is further uncertainty has been created," he said.

He said an immediate General Election was needed so a new government, with a clear majority, could prepare the four-year economic plan, complete negotiations with the EU and IMF, and frame a Budget for 2011.

Sinn Fein's Caoimhghin O Caolain said the Greens were preparing to "cut and run".

"It is absolutely shameful that this party is denying the people an immediate General Election and helping Fianna Fail to inflict further massive damage on the Irish economy and Irish society," he said.

Fine Gael deputy leader Dr James Reilly urged the Taoiseach to go to the President with his seal of office and seek the dissolution of the current Dail.

He said the people need to be able to make a decision on who governs them.

"We need a Government that has the backing of the people and a mandate from the people. This Government has none of those," he said.

Dr Reilly said a Budget could be in place before Christmas if a new government was formed.

He also said Fine Gael would not give a blank cheque to the Government to support the Budget. He insisted that abstaining from the December 7 Budget vote was "not an option" for his party.

But he went on to qualify this, saying if the Budget was similar to Fine Gael's proposals, they might then consider abstaining.


"It would be wrong of me to rule it out completely because if the Budget produced was one which matched ours, why would we oppose it? But if it's different, which I believe it will be because it always has been ... but the Irish people don't trust this Government, we don't trust this Government," he said.

And he accused the Taoiseach and Fianna Fail of putting the interests of their political survival ahead of the interests of the country.

Labour's Pat Rabbitte claimed it could be next summer before a General Election is held because it took until April this year for the President to sign-off on the Finance Bill.

Mr Rabbitte said opposition parties would not be supporting the Budget because "freelance Fianna Failers" would inevitably go around the doorsteps opposing it.

Irish Independent

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