Only Fine Gael can protect economic recovery, warns Kenny
Taoiseach says plan is built on more jobs, public service investment and making work pay
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said if Fine Gael is not part of the next government after the general election it could jeopardise Ireland’s economic recovery.
Mr Kenny used his ardfheis speech to outline the Fine Gael long-term economic plan which is based on getting more people back to work, investing in public services and making work pay.
The Taoiseach said the choice the electorate would face was “as stark as it is clear”.
Mr Kenny said: “It is your choice, and yours alone. In the privacy of the ballot box, you choose, you decide. And what do you want?
“Do you want the recovery, the recovery you have worked for, suffered for, and made so much personal sacrifice for, to continue? Or do you want to put it at risk? That’s the only question you will be asked. That’s the only question you will answer.”
Mr Kenny told delegates at Citywest hotel on Saturday evening voters had a clear choice between stability or putting the economic recovery at risk.
He said Fine Gael would not do anything to jeopardise the economy if re-elected to Government.
The Taoiseach added: “Because for us, the recovery is not a political prize, or a global headline.
“It’s something to be felt and lived by every citizen of our republic. Because it’s your recovery.”
The Fine Gael leader said difficult decisions had to be taken by the Government and he admitted they did not get everything right.
However, he claimed progress had been made and the country had moved on from “economic wreckage to economic recovery”.
The Taoiseach said the repair work was not yet complete.
Mr Kenny said he would protect Ireland’s corporation tax, end the discrimination against the self-employed, invest in infrastructure and abolish the Universal Social Charge.
He said parental leave would be extended and more support would be provided to home carers.
An additional 10,000 gardaí, teachers, doctors, nurses and other front-line staff would be recruited by 2021 if Fine Gael was re-elected, he promised.
Mr Kenny added: “To implement this plan, we need the support and the confidence of the voters.
“Because in all the white noise of the election, there is really only one question. Who will keep the recovery going?’
“A straight question with a straight answer.”
Earlier, Mr Kenny insisted he would serve a full second term as Taoiseach if re-elected to Government but did not confirm whether he would lead the party into another general election.
The Taoiseach said the date for the election was “immaterial” but the choice people faced was crucial.
Mr Kenny said it was his belief Fine Gael and Labour would be re-elected and insisted there had been no discussion with any Independent TDs ahead of the election.
Asked whether former Fine Gael TD Michael Lowry could form part of a new Government, Mr Kenny declined to rule it out.
He said: “I am not speculating beyond putting Fine Gael and Labour before the people and ask them for their support and trust. I never presume to discuss the outcomes of the election.
“I know the media want to presume the outcome of the election. As far as I am concerned we are putting a proposition to the people with a clear and costed plan to re-elect the Government of Fine Gael and Labour.”
The Fine Gael leader said it was his intention to serve a full term if re-elected.
He said he had been honoured and privileged to serve as Taoiseach and would commit to a full second term.
Asked if that stretched to another general election campaign, Mr Kenny replied: “It will be my intention to serve a second full-term.”