Friday 24 November 2017

Labour TD pours cold water on new election pact with Fine Gael

Junior Minister Ged Nash, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Bruton and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton with Oscar Power (4), Isabelle Heapes (4), Amelia Wetten (3), Ruben Corrigan (4) and Kiya O'Connor (4) at the launch of the Low Pay Commission
Junior Minister Ged Nash, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Bruton and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton with Oscar Power (4), Isabelle Heapes (4), Amelia Wetten (3), Ruben Corrigan (4) and Kiya O'Connor (4) at the launch of the Low Pay Commission
John Downing

John Downing

PROSPECTS of a Fine Gael-Labour election pact have been dented as the opposition of one Labour TD is expected to be followed by other leading activists.

As party delegates head for their conference in Killarney today, Clare Labour TD Michael McNamara has said if he wanted to campaign with Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, or any other party, he would just have joined them. Mr McNamara said he was proud to stand before the people of Clare and offer them social democratic policies.

His comments follow strong signals from Labour leader Joan Burton and deputy leader Alan Kelly that some kind of pre-election arrangement will be made with the party they have soldiered with in Government. The Labour leaders' comments follow on very explicit signals from Fine Gael that they want to renew coalition government with Labour. Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday repeated his comments at his party's conference in Castlebar last weekend about how Labour were needed in government.

"I set this out very clearly last weekend, my ambition is to have a government - the next government elected to be a Fine Gael and Labour government. This is not the first time that these two parties have rescued this economy from a series of disruptions," the Fine Gael leader said.

Mr Kenny said the next election will be held in spring 2016. "I expect by then the Labour Party will have improved its support, as will the Fine Gael party. And I expect that Fine Gael and Labour will have a very strong story to tell to the people who ultimately make the decision before the next election," he added.

Also yesterday, Finance Minister Michael Noonan of Fine Gael said he believed both parties could lose many seats and still put together the next government. He repeated comments made in Castlebar at the weekend that "centre-right" Independent TDs could be engaged to build the necessary majority.

But Mr McNamara said he had great respect for his neighbouring Limerick deputy as the Finance Minister who helped haul the economy from recession and re-negotiate the bailout terms.

"That does not mean I want to follow him in that direction. Like him, I will stand over the actions of this Government. But I would not be so presumptuous as to dictate to anybody, who thought I was worthy of a vote, how they should complete their ballot papers," Mr McNamara says writing for today's Irish Independent (below).

Mr McNamara insists that he is proud of Labour's achievements in government and argues they would be acknowledged by "so-called hard left parties" and Sinn Féin had they been achieved by anyone other than the Labour Party. He further argues that many people who voted Labour last time out will do so again once they reflect on the choices they have.

He says that Labour in government reversed the minimum wage cut; prevented privatisation of State assets; protected core social welfare rates; and expanded union rights.

Mr McNamara stresses that this Government was elected as two separate parties which made common cause for national recovery and this is how they must face the people again.

John Drennan's Guide to Politics - Spring 2015

The next election will change your life. In a special supplement with the Sunday Independent, John Drennan presents his guide to Irish politics.

Irish Independent

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