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Kenny calls for urgent election 'to clear the air'

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Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, flanked by members of his front bench, addresses the media outside Leinster

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, flanked by members of his front bench, addresses the media outside Leinster

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, flanked by members of his front bench, addresses the media outside Leinster

AN urgent general election should be held to mark a new era in Irish politics and to obtain the public's verdict on the current government, Fine Gael claimed last night.

In statements, which were largely critical of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his senior ministers yesterday, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the Taoiseach had simply "bowed to the inevitable" in resigning.

"Mr Ahern was effectively forced to resign by the weight of his own evidence and his own actions. Since September last year, I believe he lost the credibility and the authority to lead the Government effectively," he said.

Ministers who defended Mr Ahern over his financial dealings also came in for substantive criticism from Mr Kenny.

Accused

He said such ministers were now "tainted" because they had become "complicit in the deceit which is going on in Dublin Castle". He accused them of standing by the Taoiseach despite the "unbelievable stories" emanating from the Mahon Tribunal.

"One of those ministers will take over the leadership of Fianna Fail and of the Government. I believe that whoever takes over has no mandate to lead a government," he said.

"As we face serious economic and social challenges, he or she should seek a fresh mandate by calling a general election so that the Irish people can give their verdict."

The Fine Gael leader said a general election would "clear the air" and allow politics to commence a new era. He said the public should be allowed to give their verdict on the kind of government they wanted to lead them as the country enters a new era in politics.

Mr Kenny said that when he was elected leader, he promised to give "credit where credit is due" to the Taoiseach or his ministers in government.

In paying a brief tribute to Mr Ahern, the Fine Gael leader said he had witnessed him rise through his own party to the exalted and privileged office of Taoiseach.

"I have interacted with him personally and politically on many occasions over the past 30 years.

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"I recall us representing our country against the Brits in Islington when we were a little younger, and maybe a little fitter. The Taoiseach played his part at left midfield," he said.

However, he said he would pay a full tribute to the Taoiseach's legacy on the day of his formal departure.

"I welcome the fact that the Taoiseach has made this decision, tough and inevitable as it has been.

"From that perspective, this day had to come and I am glad that the Taoiseach recognises that the ongoing work of the Government was being distracted by events at the Mahon Tribunal," he said.


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