Taoiseach admits he let election speculation get out of hand

Kenny says he should have dealt with date more clearly. ‘It will be held in the spring’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanáiste Joan Burton. Mr Kenny has admitted he should have moved more quickly to quell speculation about a November election. Photograph: The Irish Times

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanáiste Joan Burton. Mr Kenny has admitted he should have moved more quickly to quell speculation about a November election. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted making a mistake in not moving more quickly to quell speculation that an election would be held in November.

Mr Kenny said he should have given a straight answer to a straight question when asked as to whether or not he intended to go to the country in November rather than in the spring.

“I strayed once in that I didn’t answer the question as I always answer it by saying that the election will be in the spring,” he told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny programme on Wednesday.

On October 8th The Irish Times reported the likelihood of a November election had increased significantly. During a number of media interviews that day the Taoiseach declined to shut down the speculation.

The Labour Party came out strongly in opposition to an early election and the Taoiseach has since confirmed that it will be held in the spring.

“I have confirmed that beyond yea or nay now so everybody out there who is going to be a contender in any shape or form should start making their preparations.”

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When asked if he was tempted by the generally favourable reaction to the budget to go to the country before Christmas, Mr Kenny responded on Wednesday: “No, I have made my mind up on this. The election will be in the spring.

“This Government is a partnership between Fine Gael and Labour. We would have gotten to where we have gotten without the support of the Labour party.”

Mr Kenny said, by waiting until the spring, he was prepared to be at the mercy of events such as an escalation in the crisis in the accident and emergencies departments over the winter or a rise in homelessless.

“That’s life. One must not be afraid of that. The mandate given to me was to fix our finances and put our country back to work. We will be judged on the results.”

He rejected criticism by a predecessor Bertie Ahern that the budget was an inflationary one.

Mr Kenny said economic growth will be 18 per cent between 2014 and 2016, tax revenues had risen by 14 per cent and government expenditure will rise by 4.5 per cent.

He also suggested Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council should have consulted with the residents of Glenamuck Cottage before agreeing to rehouse the families left homeless by the Carrickmines fire tragedy.

“The funerals haven’t even take place of these 10 people,” he said. “ There is a really deep sensitivity here. Obviously, consultation and conversation with families is really important. I hope that can take place today.

“In any community you have to balance what has happened with an appalling tragedy with the necessity to consult with the local people.”