Fine Gael has taken aim at Fianna Fáil with an election advert featuring a ghost estate warning against returning its rival to power.
The image, which comes days after Fianna Fáil was accused of negative campaigning after taking aim at Taoiseach Enda Kenny and alleged broken promises in a billboard poster, was issued by Fine Gael on Saturday.
Minister for Health Leo Vardakar, a Fine Gael TD for Dublin West, said the image of the ghost estate was a stark reminder of the legacy of Fianna Fáil in government.
Claims from @fiannafailparty on @FineGael attack. Was PP for ghost estate in Leitrim approved by FG led council? pic.twitter.com/MvWJbrJSUR— harrymcgee (@harrymcgee) January 16, 2016
“As a result of Fianna Fáil’s disastrous mismanagement of the economy, the deficit ballooned to €18 billion in 2010, but we’ve now reduced that to €3 billion,” he said.
“They brought the country to the brink of ruin by building an unsustainable boom on the back of property and debt. Then, when the crash came and they destroyed 300,000 jobs, they made it worse by putting taxes on work, which made recovery more difficult.”
Responding to the matter at his party’s ardfheis, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Mr Kenny had already broken one of its promises by engaging in negative campaigning. He said Fine Gael can all have the advertisements they want but the last thing it should be highlighting is the housing area.
“I was actually surprised that they took housing as the key feature of their advertisement this morning,” he said. “Because if I was Fine Gael the last place I would go to highlight any issue is housing. They have, by any objective analysis, failed dismally in relation to housing policy.”
Mr Varadkar said his party had a long term plan to keep the economy growing and that the Irish people had worked hard in recent years to get the country to where it is now.
“We cannot go back to Fianna Fáil’s cycle of boom and bust. The recovery has started, but the journey has just begun. We can’t let Fianna Fail lead us to the brink of ruin again.”
Mr Kenny portrayed the Fianna Fáil poster as a personal attack on him, saying: “Nobody in my party will indulge in personal attack.”
Asked if Sinn Féin would use billboards or campaigns targeting other parties or policies of other parties negatively, party leader Gerry Adams said: “Well, whatever way our publicity position manifests itself in leaflets or posters or billboards, it will be positive.”