herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

I don't carry any 'Civil War baggage' over FF/FG - Coveney

Minister Simon Coveney at a Fine Gael campaign event yesterday with Richard Bruton and election hopeful Kate O’Connell (Barry Cronin)
Minister Simon Coveney at a Fine Gael campaign event yesterday with Richard Bruton and election hopeful Kate O’Connell (Barry Cronin)

Agriculture and Defence Minister Simon Coveney has said he does not subscribe to the Civil War-type arguments used by some politicians to rule out the prospect of a Fine Gael-Fianna Fail coalition.

The prospect of both parties doing business has edged a step closer after a series of opinion polls show it to be the most likely result following polling.

While strongly criticising Fianna Fail's performance in the last government, Mr Coveney admitted that he does not have ideological differences with the party.

"I don't carry Civil War baggage, it's not what I'm about. A lot of people who are in Fianna Fail's camp or Fine Gael's camp, it goes back to differences in history and all the rest of it," the Cork South Central TD said.

"I judge Fianna Fail on their last performance in government. When 300,000 lost their jobs, when a quarter-of-a-million people had to leave Ireland to find work.

Compatible

"That's why I say I think it would be very, very difficult for us to put a Programme for Government together in terms of being compatible. If anything, their election manifesto and the promises Fianna Fail have been making in this campaign actually show that divide between the two parties in a very, very clear way."

Mr Coveney also denied suggestions that Fine Gael is trying to "ignore" the issue of abortion during the General Election campaign.

The debate over the Eighth Amendment resurfaced on Thursday after the Labour Party said it would insist on starting the process of holding a referendum by the summer if they are involved in the upcoming Programme for Government negotiations.

Communications Minister Alex White also said it "behoves" candidates to give a response to serious issues such as abortion during the campaign.

Emotive

But speaking yesterday, Mr Coveney said he stood over previous comments that candidates should not be expected to given their ­personal views on the ­matter when asked.

"I stand over my comments. The Labour Party have a different perspective on that," Mr Coveney said.

"It's a very emotive issue for lots and lots of people and it needs to be dealt with in a sensitive way."

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