herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Taoiseach firmly rules out FF and SF coalition

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny
joan burton

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has ruled out any coalition with either Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein - but has admitted he could be open to sharing power with some Independents.

Mr Kenny said there was no circumstance where Fianna Fail should be given the opportunity to get back into government.

"I do not want to see this country handed back to those that wrecked it - not once but twice. And I don't want to see it handed over to those who have no clear agenda" he told RTE's This Week.

He then slammed Sinn Fein for "off the wall" economic policies.

Mr Kenny said Sinn Fein were nothing more than a protest party whose members did not want to be in government.

However, he said he could give some consideration to the idea of Fine Gael and Labour combining with Independents after the next election, saying he had heard a number of "constructive suggestions" from Independents.

Constructive

The Taoiseach said his preference was a return to government with Labour.

But he could envisage the two current government parties sharing power with some Independents as he had heard constructive suggestions from some of these recently.

Mr Kenny also confirmed that more tax cuts were on the way before spring 2016 and the government want to particularly focus on easing the tax burden for those between €30,000 and €70,000.

He said the Government had already taken 420,000 low-paid workers out of the net for the Universal Social Charge.

The aim was to increase that to 500,000 or a quarter of the workforce. He rejected claims that he was engaging in "auction politics" and said there was a determination not to return the economy to the problems which bedevilled it in recent years.

"We have a little flexibility and we will show that flexibility to the people," he said.

Guarantee

Mr Kenny said that the Government would not consider selling its 25pc stake in Aer Lingus unless the bidders, IAG, could offer "a cast iron guarantee" on protecting current staff and connectivity to Dublin, Cork and Shannon.

In the wide-ranging interview, Mr Kenny also said that the performance of the health service was "not acceptable."

But he said the availability of money was not the only solution needed to fix the problems.

"If money could sort it, it would have been sorted out long ago," Mr Kenny said.

Mr Kenny said the priority was to hire more front-line staff in the health service, and therefore reduce the long waiting lists around the country.

"We are not going to get this right this year," he said arguing that Health Minister Leo Varadkar has a clear agenda on achieving improvements.

hnews@herald.ie

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