Bullet cartridge sparks security alert ahead of Kenny's speech
A security alert at the venue where Taoiseach Enda Kenny last night opened the Fine Gael Ard Fheis was caused by an empty bullet cartridge.
Gardai cleared part of the Citywest complex for a short time yesterday afternoon after the discovery was made behind the stage where Mr Kenny went on to make his opening address to the conference.
The bullet parts were removed to Garda headquarters where they will be forensically examined by ballistic experts.
A source told the Herald that they believe the cartridge could have been lying in the room for some time and is “unlikely to have had a sinister link” to the Fine Gael gathering.
By the time the Taoiseach arrived at the complex gardai had swept the building and the event proceeded without delay.
In his opening address, Mr Kenny said everybody “now recognises that a recovery is underway”.
“Who can forget the depth of the crisis we inherited in 2011. Ten of thousands forced out of the country in search of work, the public finances out of control, the banks on the brink of collapse. The country in a bailout. That’s what Fianna Fail left behind when the people voted them out,” he said.
Mr Kenny described some comments made by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin last weekend as “incredulous”.
“I heard them shamelessly claiming that what we really inherited from them was a plan. If that wreckage of a plan had been implemented, then the country would never have recovered,” he said.
On his way into the ard fheis Finance Minister Michael Noonan said Fine Gael and the Labour Party will “make sure the numbers stack up” so the current Coalition will be returned.
Mr Noonan said his party is not contemplating the prospect of doing business with Fianna Fail.
He insisted he is only interested in ensuring the current Coalition is returned – despite Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald refusing to categorically rule out a future Fine Gael-Fianna Fail coalition during a radio interview on Newstalk Breakfast.
“Our proposition to the people is to re-elect the present government and we are not thinking outside of that space,” Mr Noonan said.
“We are not into speculation, we are going to make sure during the campaign that the numbers do stack up,” he added.
Mr Noonan said it was “interesting” to discuss who Fine Gael might form the government with after the General Election but he insisted it was an “idle exercise”.
The minister said the “Fianna Fail option” will not arise because voters will return the current Government.
Today, delegates will hear from a series of ministers about the platforms they intend to fight the election on.
The Herald understands that Health Minister Leo Varadkar will tell supporters there “will always be problems in health”.
However, he will add: “We should not allow that to blind us to the enormous progress that has been made in healthcare under Fine Gael.”
He will outline some details of what Fine Gael intends to commit to in their manifesto, including free GP care for all children.
Mr Varadkar will also promise a new scheme to lower the cost of medicines, and enhanced home-care provision.