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Burton refuses to commit to election pact with Fine Gael


Joan Burton

Joan Burton

Joan Burton

Tánaiste Joan Burton has refused to commit the Labour Party to a pre-election voting pact with Fine Gael.

The Labour leader said it was "too early" to agree to such a pact, adding that both parties had distinct sets of policies.

"The two parties in Government have distinctive policies - and in the Programme for Government we agreed to prioritise those policies," Ms Burton said.

Responding to a 'Sunday Independent' report that some ministers favoured an early election, Ms Burton said her party would be ready to go the polls when required to do so.

But she said she favoured the Coalition serving out its full five-year term.

"'Bí Ullamh' is the motto of the Girl Guides - be ready," Ms Burton said.

"It would be a very foolish politician and party leader who doesn't have that motto in relation to politics," she added.

The Dublin West TD also rejected suggestions that her party would suffer the same electoral fate as the Liberal Democrats in the UK.

Support for the former junior coalition partner there collapsed - and it now has just eight seats at Westminster.

However, speaking to reporters at Labour's annual James Connolly commemoration at Arbour Hill, Ms Burton said she did not believe her party would suffer a similar fate.

"We here in Ireland have had coalition government for a long period of time.

"And I think everyone understands that the outcome of the next election in Ireland is likely to be a coalition," Ms Burton said.

"The big issue will be around stability and continuing the progress we've made. There are disparate groups who certainly have policies around a large number of things, but whether they can reach agreement has yet to be seen," she added.

The Tánaiste said she sent a message of sympathy to Ed Miliband, the former British Labour Party leader.

"It would be very unlikely that any party, or group of parties in Ireland, would be able to govern on less than 40pc, but, as we can see from the UK results, that is a significant majority there," she added.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday said he strongly expected the Coalition to serve out its full term.

He said he does not believe the Taoiseach is under pressure from backbenchers to call an early election.

"It's uniquely the prerogative of the Taoiseach to decide when to dissolve the Dáil," he told Shane Coleman on Newstalk.

Irish Independent