People left behind in economic recovery, Kenny admits

Great mystery of recovery is that ‘no one feels it’, says Greencore chief Patrick Coveney

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said not all sectors of Irish society are feeling the benefits of the economic recovery. Photograph: Collins

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said not all sectors of Irish society are feeling the benefits of the economic recovery. Photograph: Collins

 

Latest polls are showing more than 60 per cent of respondents want a change of government, while Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted not everyone is feeling the benefits of economic recovery.

Former Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter added to the FG party leader’s woes on the second full day of election campaigning by saying the Taoiseach had “encouraged” him to resign during the Garda malpractice controversy.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adam accused all three major political parties of “cooking the books” in figures he claimed did not add up in their manifestos.

The day began with the Taoiseach admitting not everyone was feeling the benefit of the economic recovery.

‘Much better shape’

However, he said the “country was in a much better shape” than when he took office in 2011, and that Fine Gael would “keep the recovery going”.

“If we’re going to have the public services we want, we need to have a thriving economy,” he said.

Mr Kenny’s comments to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland came after Patrick Coveney, chief executive of food firm Greencore and brother of Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, said many people are not feeling the recovery, and questioned the Government’s success on the economic turnaround.

Speaking at a conference in Cork, Patrick Coveney said the “great mystery” of the recovery is that “no one feels it”.

The businessman said many people had been left behind as the recovery was not being felt evenly across all sectors of society.

Later during the day, Sinn Féin formally launched its election campaign at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

Party leader Gerry Adams said three other major parties had miscalculated the amount of money that would be available in the next government term.

“They’ve been caught out cooking the books. Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil should withdraw their manifestos, they’re based on a lie,” he said.

Mr Adams said nobody should be afraid of a government led by his party.

The Social Democrats also launched their campaign and pledged to reduce the cost of living for families, including the cost of childcare.

Co-leader Catherine Murphy said the party strategy is to leave all coalition options open.

“We’re certainly not going to be a mudguard for anyone,” she said.

Ms Murphy said the party wanted to put “more money back into people’s pockets and we want do it in a very different way, a very even way” through reduced costs and reform.

Labour and Renua were also launching their campaigns on Friday.

‘Encouraged’ to resign

Former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the Taoiseach had “encouraged him to resign” from his position in 2014 after the finding of the Guerin report into Garda malpractice.

Mr Shatter said he had had a number of reasons for resigning, including the “media frenzy” and concern for colleagues running in local elections around that time.

“It seemed it did not matter if I told the truth or not about issues, it was never-ending,” he said.

“Quite clearly the Taoiseach had his own perspective on these things. If I could put it simply, he encouraged me to resign in the circumstances as they arose. That is the simple reality and fact.”

As campaigning forges ahead, the latest poll figures do not look too encouraging for the Coalition.

The latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll shows 63 per cent of votes want to see a change of government, with 30 per cent saying they would like to see the Coalition re-elected.

Huge variation

There was a huge variation across the party spectrum, with 84 per cent of Fine Gael supporters wanting to see the Government re-elected but only 57 per cent of Labour voters wanting it to continue.

Supporters of Opposition parties and Independents wanted to see a change.

There was a significant difference in class terms, with a majority of those in the AB category wanting the Government to be re-elected.