First 'Tallaght strategy' cost Fine Gael votes, says Kenny

 

FINE GAEL:FINE GAEL leader Enda Kenny has ruled out a second “Tallaght strategy” on the grounds that while the first one was good for the country, it cost his party votes.

He rejected businessman Denis O’Brien’s call for a “united front” from political parties in the form of a “Tallaght II”.

Mr Kenny confirmed there would be no repeat of Fine Gael’s support of the economic policies of Fianna Fáil’s minority government from 1987 to 1989. “Listen, I was a member of the Fine Gael party when we had Tallaght I.

“The problem for Fine Gael at that time was that while it was wonderful from a national perspective to support the Tallaght strategy, Fine Gael had no power or influence over it, and suffered at the polls as a consequence,” Mr Kenny said.

He went on to say that if the current Government had taken the advice Fine Gael gave it two years ago, the country would not be in “as desperate” a position. Thursday was the “biggest economic black day in this country’s history”, and the Coalition’s bad decisions were to blame.

Two Fine Gael Senators this week said the Opposition should co-operate with the Government in order to pass the next budget. Asked about the call from Senators Paul Bradford and Pascal Donohue, Mr Kenny said his party was preparing its own fiscal programme for the years ahead which would be finalised in the next three weeks.

Mr Kenny said people were “absolutely wild with anger” with the Government because of the economic downturn. People were prepared to play their part in economic recovery provided they were treated with respect and fairness, but the Coalition was not treating people in this way. A Fine Gael spokesman confirmed the party would set out its pre-budget perspective ahead of December 7th, “with a tiny fraction” of the resources available to Government.

Former Fine Gael taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, writing in today’s Irish Times, said agreement on the main parameters of fiscal policy for four years ahead would not “gut” Irish party politics. “No, there is no danger that party politics would be undermined by agreement on the main features of a fiscal plan – an agreement that may be now be vital to the retention of our sovereignty,” Dr Fitzgerald said.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday called for “maturity in our debate in the coming weeks and months”. Mr Cowen said the Government would set out its framework clearly and the individual budgets would “emerge” from that. “But in the debate in the coming weeks and months, if people want to constructively engage in that, let’s do that, but the point I will also make to you is that people can’t be criticising and not putting forward verifiable creditable options.”

Labour Party spokeswoman on finance Joan Burton accused the Government of adopting an “omerta” when it came to fiscal information.

“Rather than whingeing about the Opposition, as the Taoiseach so often does, he should acknowledge the Opposition in a democracy has a serious role to play,” Ms Burton said. This was a matter of routine in other European countries, she added.

A Labour spokesman said the party would put together its proposals in relation to this year’s budget “when all the information is made available to us”.

He added: “I don’t think we’re going to be in a position to put together longer-term proposals simply because we don’t have all the information and projections that the mandarins in the Department [of Finance] have.”