Kenny: Stark choice between FG and SF at next election

Sacrifices made by electorate will generate ‘positive dividends’, says Taoiseach

Enda Kenny: voters must choose between pro-enterprise parties or those on “the left and ultra-left”. Photograph: The Irish Times

Enda Kenny: voters must choose between pro-enterprise parties or those on “the left and ultra-left”. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Voters will face a clear choice in the next general election between choosing a coalition led by Fine Gael or one led by Sinn Féin, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

The decision to advance the preference to voters in such stark terms has been taken in the wake of research by Fine Gael, which believes that middle-ground constituents can be persuaded against such a vote, no matter how unhappy they are about water charges.

Populist parties telling people “that things don’t have to paid for” are on the rise across Europe, said Mr Kenny after a meeting of the British-Irish Council on the Isle of Man.

Accepting that such parties are “driving a wedge” into the support of existing parties, the Taoiseach said voters must choose between pro-enterprise parties, or those on “the left and ultra-left”.

By the time the next election is held, which must be no later than April, 2016, Mr Kenny argued that the decisions made by the Government and the sacrifices made by the electorate will have paid “positive dividends”.

“The choice will be a very clear choice: do they want to give power and responsibility to parties in government that have pulled our country out of the economic swamp?” he asked.

Prosperity and jobs

The decision by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Defence Simon Coveney, backed up subsequently by the Taoiseach, is evidence of a co-ordinated electoral strategy by Fine Gael.

The situation is becoming much clearer, said the Taoiseach and the choice will be between a Fine Gael-led group or one possibly led by Sinn Féin.

However, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, who was sitting beside Mr Kenny at the press conference, said he did not people should “engage in point scoring” at events such as the British-Irish Council.

Fielding questions from several quarters, Mr Kenny did not disagree with Defence Minister Simon Coveney’s remarks yesterday that the Central Bank wanted the Defence Forces on standby to protect banks.

“I think it is an indication of just how bad things were that the State had three months money left to pay the gardaí, to pay social welfare, teachers, nurses and everything else. The situation was perilously close to the economic abyss.

“It is no harm to have people reflect on just how bad the situation was in Ireland, ” he said, adding that the situation was perilous, “absolutely grave”.