It is the final week of election campaigning as the latest polls show a hung Dáil is looking likely
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08:31Good morning. It is just four days until Ireland votes and things are heating up between candidates. Almost one fifth of voters have yet to make up their mind.
My name is Rachel Flaherty and I will keep you updated on all the latest. Contact me on Twitter @rachelfl or firstname.lastname@example.org
Now we know ! The 18 per cent of undecided voters in Irish Times poll are hiding in the fiscal space. Who would blame them ?— Michael O'Regan (@MOReganIT) February 22, 2016
Latest poll: Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil gains support as the Coalition parties stagnate
The country remains on course for a hung Dáil after the general election, according to the final Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll of the campaign.
The poll shows no change in Fine Gael support since the election campaign began and a drop in Labour Party support to just 6 per cent.
Fianna Fáil has gained support since the start of the campaign and Micheál Martin now has the highest satisfaction rating of any party leader.
There are even bigger gains for Independents and smaller parties since the start of the campaign but Sinn Féin has fallen back significantly and is now at its lowest rating in an Irish Times poll for more than four years.
When people were asked who they would vote for in the general election, party support – when undecideds are excluded – compared with the last Irish Times poll on February 3rd was: Fine Gael, 28 per cent (no change); Labour, 6 per cent (down one point); Fianna Fáil, 23 per cent (up two); Sinn Féin, 15 per cent (down four) and Independents/Others, 28 per cent (up three).
This is brilliant and hilarious.Grab a coffee or tea and watch Oliver Callan impersonations.
No he didn't...but yes, yes he did!
Enda Kenny has described local people who were constantly bemoaning the lack of economic activity in May, his native county, as “whingers” on Saturday.
Probably not the best move in the last week of campaigning before a general election.
In a questions and answers session with reporters after his speech, the Taoiseach was specifically asked who he was referring to his in comments about “whingers”.
“Locals”, he replied.
“Nothing to do with national politics at all. Obviously you get this all the time. Sometimes I find that people find it difficult to see any good anywhere anytime.”
Lucinda Creighton has written to RTE, TV3 and UTV asking for them to facilitate a debate with smaller parties.— Sarah Bardon (@SarahBardon) February 22, 2016
Enda Kenny says he regrets any offence caused by the comments.
He has claimed he was referring to Fianna Fáil members when he criticised “whingers” in his hometown of Castlebar.
After initially declining to apologise his remarks, made in his Mayo constituency over the weekend, Mr Kenny this morning claimed he was referring to local political opponents.
Mr Kenny claimed he was referencing “full time professional politicians in Fianna Fáil, who’ve constantly talked down their own town”.
In this election song you get to watch Mattie McGrath jump around with boxing gloves on that have Alan Kelly and Tom Hayes's name stuck on them.
Niall Collins said it was "idiotic" for Simon Harris and Frances Fitzgerald to defend Taoiseach Enda Kenny's 'whinger' comments— Sarah Bardon (@SarahBardon) February 22, 2016
Gerry Adams says he believes in ‘leading by example’ and will take ‘average wage’
The Sinn Féin leader said he will not take a ministerial salary if elected to government.
Mr Adams said he wanted to see Sinn Féin in Government and he would like to become a Minister in that government if that was what the party desired.
“I will not take the ministerial salary. I believe in leading by example and so I will take the average wage,” he said on RTÉ radio this morning.
Asked about Thomas “Slab” Murphy and if a person could cheat on their tax obligations and still be a good Republican, Mr. Adams said: “He denies cheating on his taxes. Everybody should pay their taxes whether they are a multi-national, Thomas Murphy or anybody else”.
Asked how much would be raised by the party’s proposal to impose an extra 7 per cent tax on incomes over € 100,000, Mr. Adams said he did not have that figure to hand.
The latest odds on candidates puts Tipperary TD Michael Lowry winning most first preference votes.
Most first preferences
1/10 Michael Lowry
5/1 Michael Healy Rae
16/1 Gerry Adams
20/1 Enda Kenny
20/1 Pearse Doherty
25/1 Shane Ross
33/1 Catherine Murphy
40/1 Mick Wallace
40/1 Clare Daly
#Whingegate controversy continues..."Mayo Whingers" even have their own Facebook page.
Problem is not the gaffe, the problem was taking so long to clear it up. https://t.co/bwIDh2Yppv— Fiach Kelly (@fiachkelly) February 22, 2016
'I myself think that Enda Kenny is a bit of a whinger. I've endured his whinging for five years' - Mary Lou— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) February 22, 2016
Enda Kenny's keynote speech in Castlebar last Friday evening, a great vote catcher !!!! pic.twitter.com/TNaOyCuZ5W— SeamusJoyce (@SeamusJoyce) February 22, 2016
Joan Burton on Enda Kenny's 'whingers' comment: 'I don't agree with that...It's not a term I would use'. #ge16— mary minihan (@minihanmary) February 22, 2016
Tinder for TDs. Yes it is a thing. The bios are interesting to say the least.
Fianna Fail's reaction to the polls
Fianna Fail's justice spokesman Niall Collins said the poll showed the party has seen "some degree of recovery".
He said: "We are being received well but ultimately Friday will tell the tale."
Mr Collins said the party has been clear on its position on coalition options.
He said Fianna Fail not prop up any Fine Gael-led Government and it is offering voters a new alternative.
Mr Collins said: "Fine Gael came into this election thinking it would be a coronation that they would just have to go round the course and complete the hurdles. But they now know there are in a contest and that they are under pressure in the polls."
Who is taking down election posters?
I hope the characters that are taking down our posters will be as active after Election Day, could do with help then but not now please— Billy Kelleher TD (@BillyKelleherTD) February 21, 2016
It's illegal to tamper or remove election posters, just saying.#GE16— Colm Keaveney T.D. (@Colm_Keaveney) February 21, 2016
Thanks to everyone who came out today to replace my posters which were cut down— Mary Moran (@marymmoran) February 20, 2016
Our top read story this morning is by Susan Cahill. Abortion is one of the top topics discussed through this election.
“My abortion was not remotely traumatic. But what was traumatic was the month I spent being unnecessarily pregnant in Ireland, feeling trapped and helpless, knowing that my country did not value me at all."
Curious to see how Ireland voted at previous elections? We have the results for every constituency from 2007-2011
Where does the phrase Hung Dáil come from and what does it actually mean?
Our election lexicon is here to help.
A stalemate due to the failure of any party or bloc of parties to assemble a majority of TDs in favour of a government formation
The phrase is believed to have its roots in the 19th century American phrase “hung jury”, derived from the sense of “hung” to mean caught, suspended or delayed, as in “I got hung up at the office”.
Hugh Linehan has a thorough article on everything you want and need to know about the phrase.
14:05Which party has the best plan for the health service?
Dr Muiris Houston, a health analyst at The Irish Times, says money is no longer the real issue- it is how and where we spend it.
“This is a shrewd question that all of us, no matter our demographic, should consider before casting our vote on Friday. Much like death and taxes, it’s difficult to avoid the need for healthcare at some point. And with confidence in the public system comprehensively dented in recent years, its ability to meet our needs is a good yardstick by which to measure politicians’ promises for the service.
The Irish health system is overly hospital-centric. Despite all the rhetoric, it was ever thus. Even with recent reversals of spending cuts, it is hospitals that have attracted the bulk of the returning funds. The Government policy of extending free GP care to the under-12s and the over-70s, while popular, is being carried out with no additional investment in general practice. The primary care sector has never been properly developed in the Republic; under-pressure GPs are referring greater numbers of children under six to emergency departments as a tsunami of increased attendances follows universal free entitlement for this group.”
Joan Burton warns against ‘right of centre’ FG-FF coalition
Tánaiste Joan Burton says a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition government would be “very strongly right of centre” and would not represent the views of progressive voters.
Reacting to the findings of the latest Ipsos MRBI opinion poll, in which Labour support dropped to 6 per cent, Ms Burton said “widely divergent” polls had raised the prospect of 30, 40 or 50 Independents and small party TDs with diverse agendas being elected.
“I see a lot of commentators talking up a Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael government that essentially would be very strongly right of centre, so it’s hard for progressive voters in that situation to see much of the reform agenda that is required in this country actually being addressed in the next Dáil.”
Asked if she agreed with Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s reference to “whingers” in his Mayo constituency, Ms Burton said: “No I don’t agree with that”.
14:54On another note, uncertainty over a possible “Brexit” has seen the sterling pound weaken considerably against the euro.
Fiona Reddan has had a look at seven things that just got cheaper thanks to the slump in sterling.
These include a Six Nations trip, used imported cars and UK property.
Another election song. Although, I'm disappointed there's no politician jumping around in boxing gloves in this one.
Click to listen to my campaign song 'Strong Contender' penned and sang by the very talented David Maguire. pic.twitter.com/xFcbMbgeRC— Sen Lorraine Higgins (@LorHiggins) February 22, 2016
Record breaking homeless figures
More families became homeless in Dublin last month than in any previous month on record, the latest figures show.
Some 134 families, including 269 children, presented to homelessness services in January.
Of these, 125 families, including 253 children, had never been homeless before.
The previous highest number of newly homeless families was in August 2015, when 84 families presented to homelessness services.
The number of homeless children in Dublin now stands at 1,570, across 769 families.
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