Ahern restates preference for PD coalition


The Taoiseach said today it is "likely" that Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats will form a coalition government again.

In an interview this morning on Sky News, Mr Ahern said he believed the most important outcome of this election was to establish a stable government and build on the economic success of the past ten years.

". . .the outgoing government has broken its own record and is the longest serving government in peace-time and have dealt with many difficult issues in getting there," Mr Ahern said.

"So I think the Irish electorate will say that it makes a lot of sense to go back to the Progressive Democrats.

"We haven’t had any talks yet but that is what I campaigned for in the last week to have Fianna Fail transfers to help the Progressive Democrats and they did."

Fianna Fáil currently stands at 74 seats while Progressive Democrats with four confimred seats and two more likely with Tom Parlon in Laois/Offaly and Tim O’ Malley in Limerick East.

However there are also 14 independents with whom Mr Ahern could work with to form a majority.

Mr Ahern also said that whatever government is formed over the course of the next week, the basis of its economic policies was his commitment to maintain low taxes, coupled with a further reduction in corporation taxes and removing those on the minimum wage out of the tax net.

"We said in the campaign . . [that]our whole economic framework was based on that[tax cuts]" Mr Ahern added.

"In politics you can always have a loophole if you want a loophole, but we are in a good position, we have worked hard to have a low tax regime and that has stimulated economic activity so we don’t want to go back on that.

"Next January we will continue what we were doing on corporation tax and that has to come down as well as out promises on the minimum wage and make sure that that is tax free . . .its not just a question of stopping what we’re doing."

Addressing his refusal to enter government with Sinn Fein despite the fact that he supported Sinn Fein members holding ministerial positions in the Northern Ireland Executive, Mr Ahern said the principle difference was that the Executive did not make decisions on issues of defence and justice, whereas the Government in the South did.