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Wednesday 21 February 2018

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: 'This was always going to be a dogfight... Every seat is a battle field'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Pic: Tom Burke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Pic: Tom Burke

Geraldine Gittens and Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has once again appealed to the Irish people to return a Labour/Fine Gael coalition to power when they go to the polls on February 26.

Mr Kenny said his proposition for the Labour/Fine Gael Government was a stable option for Irish voters.

“This was always going to be a dogfight. It was always going to be a challenge in every constituency. Every seat is a battle field,” he told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke.

“Did anybody think this was going to be a cakewalk or a doddle? Maybe some people did but [not me].”

“I don’t take much notice of polls, I’m always an optimist,” he said.

His comments come as Fianna Fail's Dara Calleary has challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny to sign up for a head to head debate with Micheal Martin.

He said Mr Kenny should "come out of hiding and debate Micheal Martin one on one".

"If he's so convinced of his case he should come out and do it," Mr Calleary said.   

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny said that Irish emigrants are returning back to Ireland which serves as proof that the recovery is in motion.

“There is a proposition on the table here for a clear stable Government that will deliver on a costed plan that will create benefits for everybody.

“I think the weakness that I’ve had is to translate the recovery into what it means in every part of the country in people’s lives. And I can see that beginning to emerge with the people who’ve come back from Australia, and the father saying to me, the Christening was at home not away. But he said it’s not about monetary value, it’s emotional , reunification of family.”

“Our challenge is that on the 26th there will be a general election. The people make a choice that they want. My proposition is for a stable Government to continue that recovery.”

“In order to have a stable Government obviously you’ve got to have the numbers, but more importantly you’ve got to have the plan and implement it. It’s not just a list of promises. This is a costed plan.”

The Taoiseach said Fianna Fáil have not learned any lessons, and he reiterated that the coalition he's proposing will bring about the most stable option.

“My proposition is for the return of a stable Government. The Fianna Fail party have not learned any lessons. They left behind a programme that included €3bn payment in interest to Anglo Irish Bank every year. They left behind a programme that included an extra increase in income tax of €630m and they left on the table a cut in minimum wage to those who earn least and would suffer most.”

“In 1997 the country was handed over in very good shape to Fianna Fail. Within ten years, they’d blown it.”

“I offer [the Irish people] a very clear proposition here on Fine Gael and Labour here to continue to with a stable Government.”

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