Next election not until March 2016, says Kenny

Taoiseach dismissed talk of tension within the Coalition as ‘speculation’

 Enda Kenny, at the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party conference, at Killenard, Co Laois yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke

Enda Kenny, at the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party conference, at Killenard, Co Laois yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke

Tue, Sep 17, 2013, 01:00

in Killenard, Co Laois

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the Government will run its course and said the next election would be in March 2016.

Speaking at a dinner last night at a Fine Gael strategy meeting in Co Laois, which marks the half-way point in the Coalition’s five-year term, Mr Kenny said: “In March 2016, the people can judge us as to whether or not we have delivered on the mandate given to us . . .It’s only 132 weeks away, or whatever it is.”

Showing stability
Earlier, Mr Kenny said next month’s budget must send a signal of stability to the international community as Ireland exits the bailout in December. Mr Kenny dismissed talk of tension within the Coalition over the budget as “speculation”.

“Obviously the room here is going to be very tight and I can’t confirm what the growth figures will be, what the tax figures will be, what the evidence from the national accounts to be provided by the CSO will be,” he said referring to economic growth figures due on Thursday.

“But they are due in the next short period and on the basis of those pieces of information Government will make its collective decision in the best interest of Ireland and in the best interest of the Irish people.”

He was speaking shortly after Minister for Finance Michael Noonan warned that a “tough” budget was in prospect and cautioned against slacking off on the effort to assert control over the national finances.

“The important element of all of this is to be able to send out a signal internationally that the Irish Government and the Irish people, who’ve had to put up with a great deal of difficult decisions following the economic mess that we inherited, will send out a signal internationally of a country emerging from a bailout programme,” Mr Kenny said.

‘First to emerge’
“That will allow us to move ahead independently, economically and while fragilities still exist up ahead we can be the first and will be the first to emerge from a programme later this year.”

With Labour pressing hard to ease the €3.1 billion adjustment target set out in the troika deal by as much as €600 million, Mr Kenny said the debate was “not about individual parties” when asked if he might grant his partners some concessions in the budget debate.

However, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has said there may be some room for manoeuvre on this front.

Mr Kenny said: “I informed the Cabinet last week I will be calling a special Cabinet meeting once those figures are available to us and on the basis of that information the Government will then decide the final detail of what the budget will be.”

Labour wants to settle the budget target soon after new national accounts for the second quarter of the year are released in two days’ time.

However, Mr Kenny indicated that Exchequer returns for September will play an important role in the debate.