Election 2016

Up to the minute news on the second day of campaigning

Dan Griffin Fri, Feb 5
LIVE: Election 2016

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  • 07:59
    It's Friday, February 5th and we're three weeks out from polling day, Friday, February 26th.
  • 08:04
    The second full day of campaigning starts this morning and opposition candidates might be buoyed by findings in today's Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll showing a majority of voters favour a change in government.
  • 08:06
    Not that politicians care too much about polls or anything, as Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told Miriam Lord in Waterford yesterday (before letting slip that internal polling showed his party performing strongly in Dublin).
  • 08:12
    "You seem preoccupied, Mr Kenny. Is there something on your mind?" Is a question the king of Jordan might ask the Taoiseach when the pair hold an official meeting this morning.
  • 08:18

    But Kenny is also going to be appearing on Morning Ireland at 8.30am, so we'll have updates on that shortly.

    Will he mention fiscal space, will he talk about securing the recovery? You bet he will... but for some insightful commentary on Fine Gael's economic plan, read Arthur Beesley.

  • 08:28

    Minister for Agrticulture Simon Coveney will likely have to field questions today about comments from his brother, Greencore boss Patrick Coveney, who reportedly said it was a mystery how so many people have been left behind by "unprecedented economic recovery".

    The Irish Examiner this morning says Coveney told a business conference in Cork that the "great mystery" of the recovery is that "no-one feels it".

  • 08:33
    Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael McGrath an early entrant for the campaign hyperbole award yesterday, comparing Fine Gael of acting like the government of North Korea by limiting questions to the Taoiseach during a press conference.
  • 08:42
    And so to Morning Ireland and an interview with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
  • 08:42
    There it is: "Keep the recovery going," says the Taoiseach within the opening 10 seconds of the interview.
  • 08:44
    The Taoiseach says the macro figures are good: 135,000 jobs have been created, the deficit is down from €18 billion to just over €4 billion. But, he adds, that doesn't mean much to the person who is still looking for a job or trying to buy a house.  
  • 08:50

    He says the much talked about €2.5 billion "rainy day fund" is for unforeseen events such as international terrorism or an escalation in the migrant crisis.

    Presenter Gavin Jennings says the contingency fund might not be enough to comfortably hedge against an external crisis. Kenny just steers back to the message: vote for us to maintain the economic recovery.

  • 08:52

    "We didn't fulfill our promise," Kenny admits when pressed on how the Government failed to bring an end to the two tier health system and introduce universal health insurance and free GP care for all.

    "We failed to deliver it in the lifetime of this Government, we hope to deliver it in the lifetime of the next government," Kenny adds on free GP care.

  • 08:56
    "I will not have any dealings with Michael Lowry, or any other Independent," says Kenny. So that's that as far as Lowry's concerned.
  • 08:57

    If you're elected Taoiseach will you serve the full term?


    And will that be it?


  • 08:59
    On the question of abortion and a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, he fell back on the citizen's assembly announced a while back: "If we're to have a referendum we can only have it on the basis of consensus."
  • 09:07

    The most discussed election issues on Facebook are health and the economy along with crime, corruption, housing, flooding and abortion, according to a press release on behalf of the social media company.

    The top five most discussed party leaders are: Enda Kenny, Joan Burton, Gerry Adams, Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan.

    Apparently about 30,000 "interactions" (posts, comments and likes) take place on the general election each day. That would probably make Facebook more relevant to the campaign than Twitter but, judging by the figures released from the tech companies, this election certainly won't be won or lost on social media.

  • 09:13
    Here's a full report on the Taoiseach's appearance on RTÉ's Morning Ireland from political correspondent Fiach Kelly.
  • 09:21
    Speaking of Lowry, the Irish Daily Mirror this morning reports the TD failed to show up for 73 per cent of Dáil votes since 2011. He was probably busy out working for the people of Tipperary, who will elect him emphatically on February 26th.
  • 09:28
    "So then I said to King Abdullah II of Jordan..."
  • 09:46

    "Opinion polls are extraordinary. You quickly find out that what the voters really want is for politicians to find all the square pegs they can get their hands on and jam them into round holes."

    Listen to the Irish Times Inside Politics podcast here.

  • 09:57

    Fine Gael launched their long-term economic plan, which was swiftly savaged by the opposition parties, yesterday. Today, the party launches its jobs plan at 10.30am.

    Sinn Féin are up then with their campaign launch at 11am.

    The Social Democrats launch will take place at the same time at Chartered Accountants House in Dublin.

    Then it's the Fianna Fáil housing press conference at 11.30am.

    Before the Renua campaign sets sail from the Ship Street entrance to Dublin Castle at 2pm.

    The Labour Party campaign launch will take place at 2.30pm in the Grand Canal Theatre.

  • 10:06
    Alan Kelly is in studio for the Sean O'Rourke show. He'll probably be looking to save face after yesterday's appearance on Newstalk Breakfast where, indeed, he was had for breakfast by Independent Mattie McGrath.
  • 10:06
  • 10:14
    Things are much more subdued this morning between the Tipperary candidates. There's a clatter of them on the radio now as well as the aforementioned Messrs (messers?) Kelly and McGrath. It's fairly pedestrian stuff so far: jobs, recovery, local economy, that sort of thing.
  • 10:26

    Nonetheless, the Constituency Commission certainly created a saucy battleground when it recommended fusing Tipperary South and most of Tipperary North into a single five-seat constituency. There are a few bruisers in the fray: Kelly, McGrath, Lowry, Tom Hayes, Seamus Healy and Noel Coonan are all sitting TDs but at least one of them is going to have to lose out on a seat. This fight is more of a heavyweight brawl than a technical masterclass.

    Read the full constituency profile here.

  • 10:34
  • 10:42
    Sean O'Rourke has just failed to carry out his solemn duty in that case.
  • 10:51
    No doubt Labour will try this time to avoid putting out any campaign literature that might get thrown back at them again and again during the next Dáil. In other words, no more Tesco-style "every little hurts" anti-Fine Gael ads. (Labour went into coalition and all the measure came to pass anyway--Opposition candidates are still referring to it.)
  • 10:54
    FG jobs launch should be taking place now in something called "Dogpatch Labs" in Dublin.
  • 11:15
  • 11:17
    The well-groomed young go-getters of Labour Youth invite you to "check the register".
  • 11:20
    The Sinn Féin campaign launch is taking place at the Royal Irish Academy now.
  • 11:21
    Uh-oh, Freudian auto-correct from Fergal Keane.
  • 11:25
    Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have pledged to "reduce the cost of living" at their campaign launch.
  • 11:32
    Of course, any losing candidates can always adopt the approach of friend of Ireland Donald Trump and simply accuse the winners of fraud. Read Simon Carswell for the latest on the never ending US election campaign.
  • 11:55
    I'm sorry, I haven't got a clue.
  • 12:01
    Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter clearly chasing the canine vote with these rubber balls. But will he be bounced back into a Cabinet portfolio after the election?
    Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter clearly chasing the canine vote with these rubber balls. But will he be bounced back into a Cabinet portfolio after the election?
  • 13:01
    Gerry Adams has said people shouldn't be afraid of a government led by Sinn Féin and that the accountancy in the other parties' manifestos amounted to "cooking the books".
  • 13:12
    Speaking of unusual promotional material, FG candidate Kate O'Connell produced this 12-page newspaper. It has a crossword and horoscopes and everything.
    Speaking of unusual promotional material, FG candidate Kate O'Connell produced this 12-page newspaper. It has a crossword and horoscopes and everything.
  • 13:17
    If you, the reader, have seen any other interesting promotional stuff you can tweet it to me at @dangriffinIT or send it to dgriffin@irishtimes.com. That's two from FG now though so we're looking for stuff from other parties or else Julian Mercille will say we're just a cog in a big pro-establishment conspiracy again.
  • 13:20

    Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath and Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty are on the radio now saying the government's economic plan is a load of old nonsense.  

    But McGrath also promises a "ring-fenced rainy day fund" for any future economic shock or downturn.

  • 13:22
    "Let's avoid the street brawl," pleads Richard Crowley as the two spokesmen start getting shirty over each other's sums.
  • 13:32

    McGrath also says the Fianna Fáil position on going into government with Sinn Féin is "crystal clear"--they won't do it--but "there may well be individual members of the party who hold a different view".

  • 13:49
  • 14:01

    Yikes. I wonder when Renua were doing their pre-campaign focus groups did they get a lot of people saying they wanted to see full life prison sentences in Ireland?  

    "Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton has pledged that as part of the party’s tough crack-down on crime, in future a life sentence will live up to its name," read a statement from the party today.  


  • 14:08
    A quick break from the election business now to watch some Super Bowl ads. The inexplicably popular sporting event takes place this Sunday.
  • 14:24
    The Renua campaign launch has just taken place. They won't go into Government with Michael Lowry either it seems.
  • 14:37
    No one's numbers add up. This is the most consistent line across all parties.
  • 15:01

    Fine Gael published their jobs plan this morning. They say everyone who wants a job can have one by 2020 (which is two years later than their Coalition partners Labour promised). Now they're having a cut at Fianna Fáil:

    “It is day two of the election campaign and Fianna Fáil still hasn’t published a jobs plan, or an economic plan. What we do know however is what their friends and possible partners Sinn Fein’s plan is in relation to jobs. They are a high tax, anti-jobs party who would wreck the economy. They think those earning €35,000 are high earners and they would tax us all by stealth."

  • 15:02
  • 15:05

    Joan Burton, flanked by Alan Kelly and Brendan Howlin at her party's campaign launch says:

    "The last five years have been turbulent for our people and our country. To deal effectively with the crisis there were no easy solutions but the last five years have also been transformative and now we go back to the people to report progress and the gains we have made together."

  • 15:14

    The doors continue to close for Michael Lowry. When it comes to ethics in public office, he might find that old Groucho Marx quip instructive: "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member".  

    Micheál Martin has just said Fianna Fáil doesn't want to hear from him:
    "I can rule him out most definitively because Dáil Éireann has already censured Mr Lowry in respenct of the conclusions and finding of the Moriarty Tribunal which were debated in the last Dáil. Now if all political parties come together to deliver a motion of censure there should be no equivication then in terms of whether one would engage or do a deal."

    Martin was probably having a go at Kenny there at the end, alluding to how it took the Taoiseach ages to rule out bringing Lowry into government.

  • 15:36

    We'll leave you with this from Tony Barber in the Global Insight column of today's Financial Times:

    "If opinion polls are accurate, Fine Gael will reap their reward, seizing about 30 per cent of the vote in a general election on February 26th and remaining the largest party in parliament. This would represent a triumph unique among the four countries that received EU-IMF rescues between 2010 and 2012 and had centre-right government during their spells in Europe's emergency ward. After electon in Greece, Portugal and Spain, each country's bailout-era prime minister has, in his own way, come a cropper.

    "If Mr Kenny bucks the trend, it will in many respects be in spite of - rather than thanks to - the terms of Ireland's EU-IMF bailout."