Kenny accuses Fianna Fáil of leaving a ‘legacy of devastation’

Taoiseach says last government plunged country into financial crisis

On the eve of Fianna Fáil’s Árd Fheis Taoiseach Enda Kenny the party was not facing up to its responsibility for Ireland’s economic mess. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

On the eve of Fianna Fáil’s Árd Fheis Taoiseach Enda Kenny the party was not facing up to its responsibility for Ireland’s economic mess. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has criticised Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin ahead of this weekend’s Fianna Fáil Árd Fheis.

Speaking at the fifth report of the Action Plan for Jobs in Dublin this morning, Mr Kenny said Fianna Fáil had left a “legacy of devastation” and their economic policies will never be forgotten.

“Not facing up to their responsibility for Ireland’s economic crisis is just part of their opportunistic and cynical approach to politics which got us into this position in the first place,” said Mr Kenny. He said there was further evidence of this in their approach in opposition,citing Fianna Fáil’s opposition to the property tax as “a classic example of the party jeopardising economic recovery in pursuit of political gain.”

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore echoed Mr Kenny’s sentiments, saying voters should remember “how we got here in the first place” this weekend.

“The last Government plunged the country into financial crisis and brought us to a situation where international lenders would not lend us money and led us to the lenders of last resort with the IMF and ECB,” said Mr Gilmore. He added that while their period in Government has been difficult, Fine Gael and Labour had managed to avoid a second bailout.

Mr Kenny asked whether Mr Martin accepted his party’s role in the debt and unemployment crisis and accused Fianna Fáil of blaming international factors instead of themselves. He questioned if Mr Martin “could ever be trusted with the economy again”.

Mr Kenny said Fianna Fail left a generation saddled with massive personal debt. “No other country experienced worse unemployment levels and the facts speak for themselves,” he said. “They wiped out 250,000 private sector jobs between 2008 and 2011, just shy of 7,000 jobs a month.”

He said the Government had “stabilised the situation”, creating 1,000 private sector jobs every month for the past 15 months. “We should not let people forget that no other small European or euro zone economy experienced the scale of devastation that this country has. The Fianna Fáil governments which Deputy Martin served for 14 years are the reason why unemployment rates in Ireland are twice that in Finland, Denmark and of Sweden. ”

Mr Kenny said the Government plan is to develop a sustainable tax base in order to bring down the deficit to save levels, with the aim of getting the deficit down below by 3 per cent by 2015.

Mr Kenny urged voters to stick with the Government and not be swayed by Fianna Fáil. “People in three years time will have the opportunity to cast their judgement on this Government. After going through a period of pain they will see the jobs and employment,” he said.

Fianna Fáil has expressed surprise at Mr Kenny’s comments. “I think people will be surprised that the Taoiseach is focused on the work of the Fianna Fáil party, rather than on his Government’s increasingly chaotic approach to the major issues affecting the country today,” a spokesman for Mr Martin said in a statement.

The party had hoped Mr Kenny would have acknowledged the jobs plan was not working, the statement said.

Instead, “he took the opportunity at a jobs press conference to resort to old style politics-as-usual,” it said. “The irony of the leader of the Government of broken promises talking about ‘trust’ will not be lost on the Irish people,” the statement added.

The Government said it has implemented 146 of the 150 measures in the past three months under the Action Plan for Jobs. Six measures were not delivered in the period, including the planned publication of legislation on planning for foreshores, the launching of a new logo for the Local Enterprise Office and holding a meeting on information security.

Meanwhile, Mr Gilmore and Mr Kenny said they are confident any differences within the Government over abortion legislation can be bridged and the heads of the bill can be brought to Cabinet next week. “The Government’s objective is to provide certainty and safety for women in pregnancy,” said Mr Gilmore.