O'Rourke backs calls for general election to go ahead
FIANNA Fail TD Mary O'Rourke has backed calls for a general election before Christmas -- in a break with Government position.
She said yesterday there was an irresistible logic to it, because it would force the opposition to detail their plans for tackling the nation's financial crisis in their economic manifestos.
"It would force honesty on the opposition. There's no refuge now in saying we would do the same cuts, only we would do it all differently. There's only one way to do cuts and it means C-U-T," she said.
Ms O'Rourke, who served as a minister in three government departments, is the most senior Fianna Fail TD to come out in favour of an early election. And it has put her at odds with party leader, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who has consistently maintained that the Government will serve its full term until May 2012. However, opinion polls have consistently found that a majority of voters is dissatisfied with his administration and wants a general election.
Ms O'Rourke was asked if an early general election would simply result in Fianna Fail moving to the opposition benches.
"Let's see. I think it's the forcing of the honesty on the opposition I would welcome. You go to meetings and they're either appalled at everything we're doing in general and then say they would do it differently. So let's have it in an economic manifesto from them," she said.
Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Pat Carey last night said on RTE's 'The Week in Politics' that a pre-Christmas general election was Ms O'Rourke's personal view.
"It is not the Government's view. It would be extremely unwise and probably dangerous to have a snap election," he said.
But on the same programme, Fine Gael deputy leader James Reilly said there should be a general election quickly to allow the people to speak.
"Let's have a new mandate. See who the new government is. The markets will then be reassured that the people have spoken, given the government the mandate to what needs to be done and they will be far calmer," he said.
Meanwhile, Ms O'Rourke's nephew, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, is under increasing pressure as the opposition focuses on his previous upbeat statements about the cost of resolving the banking crisis -- many of which have proven to be wrong.
But Ms O'Rourke said she had been musing about the idea in the past few days and had not consulted with anyone else in advance. "I happen to have my own head on me. It's all my own idea. I didn't tell it to anyone," she said.