| 8.5°C Dublin

In brief: Community activist Guerin to take stand against SF in Dublin North East

Colourful community activist Jimmy Guerin, right, has revealed that he is standing as an independent in Dublin North East to block the election of Sinn Fein's Larry O'Toole.

"I believe that I have to offer myself for election as an alternative to the left-type candidates who have grown in popularity by playing on people's fears and anger. They offer no real alternative and we could end up in a worse situation if we allow them into the Dail," Mr Guerin said yesterday. "The danger of electing individuals with outdated socialist views will make it more difficult to convince Europe that we deserve a lower interest rate on our existing arrangement with the EU/IMF," he said.

"There is a real possibility that Sinn Fein, along with other leftists, could form the main opposition party or even make up the numbers with Labour and form the next administration. Were that to happen businesses would never recover from the present difficulties they are now experiencing," he said.

Campbell takes spin 'round Labour HQ

Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell made an impromptu appearance at the Labour Party's election HQ yesterday, after being invited in by 'tweet'.

Mr Campbell, who was in Dublin this weekend to promote his book, was in 4FM studios yesterday in Golden Lane, which just so happens to be in the same building as Eamon Gilmore's base camp.

During the interview, Mr Campbell tweeted "Same building as Labour Party. Anyone in?" One eager handler responded with an invite for Mr Campbell to pop in once his interview was over. Modern communication at its best.

FG travels coach while FF uses wagon

Like 2007, Fine Gael has spared no expense in ensuring its leader Enda Kenny is never without an entourage as he travels the country.

Once again a plush leader's bus, complete with ample leg room and coolers for drinks, is in operation to facilitate members of the media who wish to travel with the Taoiseach in waiting.

This is in sharp contrast to Fianna Fail's impoverished operation. Gone is its lavish transport for media and other hangers-on, which was the hallmark of their 2007 campaign. In its place, accompanying Micheal Martin around the country, is a solitary station wagon.

Will he, won't he? The debate farce

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin last night slated Enda Kenny's stance over the three-way leaders' debate controversy on TV3 as nothing short of "farcical".

Mr Martin's comments came as FF said it understood that the Fine Gael leader will attend the three-way debate on Tuesday night, which will now be moderated by Ursula Halligan rather than by Vincent Browne.

Mr Martin, who was yesterday canvassing in Cork, said that he remains "totally taken aback" by Mr Kenny's stance in refusing to participate should Mr Browne have any involvement in the debate.

"The whole thing is a bit farcical," Mr Martin said.

Who's really pulling Enda's strings?

Given Enda Kenny's refusal to partake in a three-way debate, Fianna Fail's Niall Collins has asked whether he would be willing to speak to a pair of TV puppets.

"Perhaps it's time we asked Enda outright, who he will speak to? I wonder will he talk to Podge and Rodge."

The Limerick County candidate said Mr Kenny's behaviour over the debate was "disgraceful".

What's in pension pot? Not a lot

THERE has been much talk in recent weeks and months about the parties raiding the National Pensions Reserve Fund to pay for various investment stimulus packages.

However, we checked how much is left and, shock horror, there's virtually nothing left.

According to the NTMA, once the bank recapitalisation is drawn down, only €4.9bn is left. However, that pot includes provisions for the proposed investments in Irish infrastructure assets and water metering services as set out in The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014.

Martin says he's sticking to the list

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin has ruled out any further changes to the party's candidate list before voting begins in three weeks' time.

Mr Martin -- speaking as he canvassed in Cork -- insisted that he had received a warm reception in counties visited so far and said he was eagerly looking forward to the televised party leader debates.

When asked if FF faced any further shock candidate withdrawals after high-profile retirements including Niall Blaney, John Cregan and Noel O'Flynn, Mr Martin said that the party's candidate list was finalised as far as he was concerned.

"I do not [anticipate further changes]," he insisted.

Former junior minister Michael Ahern (FF) hit out at rumours that he was considering withdrawing from the Cork East ticket. Mr Ahern and councillor Kevin O'Keeffe were selected last month to contest seats in the sprawling four-seater. Mr O'Keeffe was selected after his father, Ned O'Keeffe, said he was retiring after 29 years in the Dail.

Sunday Independent