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Friday 17 August 2018

Judgment day for Kenny's pledges

The Government was last night accused of rowing back on key pre-election promises and continuing Fianna Fail policies as it faces its first public reckoning on its 100th day in office.

Mr Kenny took power on March 9 promising sweeping reforms in an attempt to make Government more open and bring the political class closer to the people.

But after a lengthy honeymoon buoyed by the historic visits of Queen Elizabeth and President Barack Obama, the Taoiseach faces a self-imposed judgment day tomorrow.

Opposition politicians have been quick to point out campaign promises not followed through, with Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath claiming repeated U-turns by Mr Kenny.

"Many of the pledges and promises that were made during the election campaign and even in the Programme for Government have now been rendered null and void," Mr McGrath said.

"The Government appear to have conducted many handbrake turns on important issues including renegotiation of the EU/IMF deal."

Just two days before the general election Mr Kenny set out 28 policies he would implement in his first three months as Taoiseach, ranging from a renegotiation of the Ireland's international bailout to implementing political and health reforms and revamping the banking sectors.

He vowed to present a progress report on the 100th day, claiming the country could not afford to waste any time. The Taoiseach is expected to hold a briefing in Government Buildings tomorrow afternoon to detail achievements.

Sinn Fein's finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the change that people were hoping for after Fianna Fail never materialised.

"I think it's been a disappointing 100 days from this Government," Mr Doherty said.

"I think what we've seen is a continuation of Fianna Fail policies being delivered by a different government.

"We haven't see any real change for people in relation to the EU/IMF bailout or the programme of austerity.

"A lot of the commitments given prior to the election have been reneged on and it seems to be more of the same."

Renegotiating the 85 billion euro bailout was the central plank of the Taoiseach's election manifesto, and he pledged to use his contacts among European leaders to secure a better deal for Ireland.

But the tough talk has come back to haunt him amid staunch opposition from France and Germany in particular, who have demanded Ireland increase its controversially low 12.5% corporation tax rate in return for any rate concession.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore also pledged action on the terms of the international rescue package, infamously claiming it would be "Frankfurt's way or Labour's way".

The Government claim changes have been made, including persuading the IMF and European allies to allow the one euro cut in the minimum wage to be restored.

But Independent TD Shane Ross said it was simply "tinkering around the edges", claiming changes have been more cosmetic than material.

"There's a lot of noise that's been made about a lot of very important issues, yet very little has been delivered," he said.

And Mr Kenny's Dail performance impressed the Dublin South TD, who claimed Fine Gael has benefited from not being Fianna Fail.

"I think the performance of Enda Kenny in the Dail has been extraordinarily professional.

"He has learnt how to perform in the Dail, which is something he didn't do in opposition. That gives the impression of confidence."

© Press Association

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