Saturday 24 March 2018

Kenny to address nation on state of economy

Fionnan Sheahan and Fiach Kelly

Despite knives being sharpened following the presidential election debacle, the Fine Gael meeting did not dwell for long on Mr Mitchell's performance

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is planning to make a state of the nation speech on the economy before next month's Budget.

At a Fine Gael meeting where Gay Mitchell's disastrous presidential election was briefly discussed, Mr Kenny told his TDs and senators he was planning to make the keynote address.

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen was frequently criticised for not addressing the nation about the economic downturn and the measures necessary to stabilise the public finances.


Ahead of the Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition's first budget, Mr Kenny will make a matter-of-fact speech on the condition of the economy and what's coming down the track to repair it.

The Taoiseach's intention is said to be to make a straightforward speech and not to over-hype the Budget or frighten people.

No set date has been pencilled in for Mr Kenny to make his speech before the Budget is announced on December 6.

In the run-up to budget day, the Government will publish four different documents, starting tomorrow with a medium- term budget plan, which will set out how big the package of cuts and taxes for 2012 will be.

Next week, the capital spending plan will be released, followed by public service reforms and detailed spending estimates, before Budget 2012.

Despite knives being sharpened following the presidential election debacle, the Fine Gael meeting did not dwell for long on Mr Mitchell's performance -- the party's worst presidential election result.

"There was no bloodbath. It was more like a Turkish bath or a bubble bath, all nice and smooth and foamy. There was no hassle in it," a party TD said.

Fine Gael's director of elections Charlie Flanagan said he will produce a formal report for the parliamentary party on the campaign proper in the next two weeks.

And there was general agreement the party would look at how it chooses its candidates in the future.

After being beaten to the nomination by Mr Mitchell this summer, the party's MEP Mairead McGuinness was present at the meeting.


She was critical of the party's research conducted prior to the convention.

"She said she hadn't seen it and that was a bit unfair," a party source said.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar gave a short report on the Dublin West by-election, where the party only finished a poor fourth, with its vote dropping substantially.

Mr Varadkar said the result was disappointing, adding that he had decided not to intervene in the selection of the candidate.

Mr Kenny himself spoke on the defeat on the Oireachtas powers referendum and reiterated that the Government still planned to hold two referendums next year, on children's rights and the abolition of the Seanad.

Fine Gael parliamentary party secretary Simon Harris said Mr Flanagan would be making a presidential election report in the coming weeks. "The lessons of the presidential election must be taken on board," he said.

Irish Independent

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