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Thursday 8 December 2016

Kenny rules out doing any deal with FF after a day of confusion

Enda Kenny dismissed talk of pact with Micheal Martin
Enda Kenny dismissed talk of pact with Micheal Martin
Micheal Martin

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out a post-election deal with Fianna Fail after a day of confusion over his position on the matter.

Mr Kenny repeatedly refused to answer a straight question on a deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail during his party's manifesto launch on Sunday.

Asked if he would rule out leading a government that was relying on the support of Fianna Fail, he said he was not "contemplating" having to do a deal with Micheal Martin.

This was widely interpreted as a softening of his previous statements at a crucial point in the campaign.

Mr Kenny's ambiguity led to fears in the Labour Party that they were about to be "cut loose" as a result of their poor showing in the opinion polls.

Tanaiste Joan Burton met with Mr Kenny on Sunday night and received reassurances that he would make it clear that there is no "fall-back" plan if voters don't re-elect the Coalition.

In an effort to reassert the vote transfer pact, Ms Burton said that the Taoiseach would clarify that he was still exclusively committed to going back into government with Labour.

Less than two hours later, Mr Kenny told reporters: "I thought the people in the media are very careful about records as you play them back to us very often.

"I was the first party leader to rule out Fianna Fail. I've ruled them out on at least 10 occasions in the last fortnight and I'll do so again now - very clearly."

However, even that statement was not exactly in line with what his advisors would have liked.

"It could have been clearer, but make no mistake Fianna Fail are not and will not be an option," said one source.

Concern is mounting within Fine Gael that Mr Kenny's 'mixed messages' are partly to blame for their lack of traction with the public.

Mr Kenny allowed 10 days around the start of the campaign to be taken up with questions about whether he would look to independent TD Michael Lowry to help form a government if the Coalition falls short of 80 seats.

Business

Initially Mr Kenny insisted on saying he did not "envisage" doing business with any independents but eventually relented to say he would "not have any dealings" the Tipperary TD.

There was further controversy when Mr Kenny failed to answer questions on how much money Fine Gael believe is available to fulfil their election promises.

On that occasion he said he did not want to discuss the so-called "fiscal space" because it was "economic jargon which the vast majority of people don't understand".

At the manifesto launch of the Labour Party, Ms Burton stressed that the outgoing Coalition had lasted five years together and could do so again.

"We need a government with a proven track record. Not one making it up as it goes along, pulled this way and that way by independents and others whose patriotism stops at their constituency borders," the Tanaiste said.

Mr Kenny was speaking at the launch of his party's €2bn plan for health including extending free GP care to all children.

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