Election 2016

Rolling updates from the first official day of campaigning

Dan Griffin Thu, Feb 4
LIVE: Election 2016

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  • 07:58
    The Irish Times

    The first full day of campaigning in general election 2016 kicks off this Wednesday as an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll shows show support for the Coalition has slipped.

    Fine Gael are down two points on the last opinion poll to 28 per cent while Labour remain unchanged at 7 per cent.

    Labour members were buoyed this weekend when a poll in the Sunday Business Post showed them on 10 per cent show but the party has a lot of work to do over the next three weeks.

    The colour of the next government remains anyone's guess with Fianna Fáil rallying at 21 per cent, Sinn Féin down to 19 per cent and Independents/others up 2 points to 25 per cent.

  • 08:14
    The Irish Times

    Elsewhere this morning, the Irish Independent claims Enda Kenny landed his first major gaffe of election 2016. Just hours into the campaign, the Taoiseach said he would not get into "economic jargon which the vast majority of people don't understand".

    The Irish Examiner, meanwhile, claims Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has rolled back on plans for a €2.5 billion rainy day fund, saying it will not be part of the €12 billion spending promise.

  • 08:23
    The Irish Times Minister for Communications Alex White, Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes and Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher thrashing it out now on Morning Ireland. Each one reckons he can make better use than the other of the "fiscal space", it's the feng shui of public finance.
  • 08:26
    The Irish Times Fianna Fáil again saying they want to be in government but refusing to outline how it will come about. Asked who the party will go into government with, Kelleher says:  "the point everybody's missing is the Irish people will decide this".
  • 08:28
    The Irish Times Matt Carthy for SF says much the same: we want to lead government but don't know who we'd go in with.
  • 08:29
    The Irish Times
  • 08:39
    The Irish Times Matt Carthy says Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led governments have institutionalised inequality in the health service.
  • 08:41
    The Irish Times So the general election has just begun and the parties will be out canvassing today. Sinn Féin will take O'Connell Street in Dublin at 11am where  Mary Lou McDonald, Eoin O Broin, and Peadar Tóibín will, we are told, do a bit of media outside the GPO.
  • 08:43
    The Irish Times Fine Gael will launch it's long-term economic plan at 10.30am and the Taoiseach will travel to the midlands on the canvass.
  • 08:45
    The Irish Times Micheál Martin, menwhile, will be in Waterford today while the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit alliance will launch its campaign at 2.30pm in Buswell's Hotel, across the road from Leinster House.
  • 08:47
    The Irish Times

    Labour's Joan Burton and Ged Nash will launch the party's employment plan ‘Standing up for Jobs’ –  10.30am  Boann Distillery, Lagavooren, Platin Road, Drogheda at 10.30pm.

    SF leader Gerry Adams will also be stalking around the Co Louth town before he returns to Dublin to canvas Dublin West and Dublin Mid-West in the afternoon.

  • 08:51
    The Irish Times First time voters and other youngsters who missed out on the joy and colour of the same sex marriage referendum can register to vote at DIT's "Rock the Register" event at 10am. They'll soon realise there's a lot less bonhomie in a general election.
  • 08:52
    The Irish Times
  • 08:57
    The Irish Times Three weeks? Spare a thought for our friends in the United States who've been locked into an election campaign for about three years now.
  • 09:15
    The Irish Times In other news, the Boss is coming to Croke Park. Coming to Croke Park on May 27th. It will be interesting to see what that means for the Leinster senior hurling quarter final, which is also coming to Croke Park that weekend.

  • 09:21
    The Irish Times Now, after the screaming and shouting between the candidates on Morning Ireland, it's over to Newstalk Breakfast and Tipperary where we're in for a three-way donnybrook between Alan Kelly (Lab) Michael Smith (FF) and Mattie McGrath (Ind).
  • 09:23
    The Irish Times "I'm a young, energetic, hardworking councillor," says Smith.
  • 09:24
    The Irish Times "The people aren't going to be fooled," says McGrath. "I'm interested in people's lives. The humanity."
  • 09:29
    The Irish Times Kelly says the government has been performing well but he agrees there are problems with the health service. "We need way more doctors and it is absolutely a critical issue."
  • 09:32
    The Irish Times "You can bully people inside in the Dáil but you can't bully me for the next three weeks in Tipperary," says Kelly to McGrath as the two TDs start shouting over each other.
  • 09:34
    The Irish Times "Lads, will you stop shouting at each other please," says presenter Chris Donoghue as the candidates argue over how long the Garda training college at Templemore had been closed for during the past number of years.
  • 09:38
    The Irish Times Candidates would do well to approach food with extreme caution this campaign given that the British Labour Party's election hopes were effectively derailed last year by a bacon sandwich.
  • 09:40
    The Irish Times Smith (FF) hardly getting a word in here on Newstalk amid tetchy exchanges between Kelly (Lab) and McGrath (Ind).
  • 09:44
    The Irish Times

    The start of the campaign so far is like the opening minutes of a high-stakes football match where both teams are so wound up the players seem capable of little more than lashing out at each other.

    "This is Juvenile," says Donoghue, wrapping it up.

  • 09:45
    The Irish Times Suitably masculine analogy there as well given that neither of the two main national current affairs stations seemed to be able to get a female candidate on for a debate.
  • 09:49
    The Irish Times
  • 09:57
    The Irish Times

    In 2011 the Dáil was dissolved and the election called on February 1st. Back then, five years ago, Labour thought they were on course to win 50 seats and become the biggest party in the State with their leader Eamon Gilmore as taoiseach.

    Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has said the party is still on course to win over 50 seats in the election and be the largest party in the Dáil, wrote political correspondent Harry McGee at the time.

  • 10:18
    The Irish Times
  • 10:30
    The Irish Times A bit of a lull now but things will get spicy again in a few minutes when Fine Gael launch their long-term economic plan. They will say they're going to add more ballast to the ship of State and keep the economy on a straight course. Fianna Fáil will say it's a load of rubbish.  
  • 10:33
    The Irish Times
  • 10:40
    The Irish Times

    Plenty of good stuff in our large 10-page-election-coverage (12 if you count the front and op-ed pages) paper today, including this from Miriam Lord.

    "In no time at all Leinster House emptied of politicians. All that remained were the ones who have no personal campaign to fight any more. They walked the corridors. They went to the canteen. They went to the bar. They looked lost. For everyone else it was game on."

  • 10:45
    The Irish Times

    What are candidates' spending limits for general election 2016? According to the Standards in Public Office Commission, they are:

    €45,200 for a five seat constituency.

    €37,650 for a four seat constituency.

    €30,150 for a three seat constituency.

  • 10:52
    The Irish Times
  • 11:11
    The Irish Times There is now a website that records, stores and publishes tweets deleted by candidates. It's called politwoops. Do you hear that, Fidelma Healy Eames?
  • 11:15
    The Irish Times

    Lucinda Creighton, leader of Renua, responds on RTÉ to the Irish Times poll showing her party on 1 per cent

    Sean O'Rourke says some of her candidates were "headbangers" after a number of them pulled out of the election in dubious circumstances. That's offensive, says Creighton, who tells him her party has a new economic vision, one that will avoid boom and bust cycles.

  • 11:28
    The Irish Times

    Some breaking news now. Matt Le Blanc, TV's Joey, is to be a presenter on BBC's motoring show Top Gear.

  • 11:37
    The Irish Times

    And congratulations to  Waterford Whispers News, which has emerged as one of the "unlikely influential voices" of the general election on Twitter, according to a press release from PR360.

    Apparently #GE16 was tweeted more than 15,000 times yesterday. "A total of 6,623 Twitter accounts from Ireland and overseas tweeted about the general election," we're told.

    But what does that mean? Well, in 2011 the average quota (ie the number of votes needed to be elected) was 10,686 with elected candidates getting on average 8,339 first preference votes (78 per cent of the quota).

    So imaging now that each account that tweeted about the election yesterday represents a single voter, and imagining that all of those voters live in a single constituency and now imagining that every one of them votes for the same candidate, it still would not be enough to get elected on the first count.

  • 11:50
    The Irish Times
  • 12:03
    The Irish Times Queues of students intent on registering to vote in the forthcoming general election formed at Garda stations in a number of locations yesterday, including Maynooth, Co Kildare, Galway city and in Tralee, Co Kerry, writes Tim O'Brien.
  • 13:05
    The Irish Times
  • 13:06
    The Irish Times But Sinn Féin say: "A vote for Fine Gael is a vote for fracking".
  • 13:12
    The Irish Times Enda Kenny said his party's relatively poor showing in today's Irish Times poll would fire its members up, writes Sarah Bardon.
  • 13:24
    The Irish Times

    Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is on the radio. He says every party is making promises but "there isn't a bob to fulfil any of those promises unless the recovery continues". He adds that if he is in Finance in the next government he will reduce USC over its five year term with measures in place to ensure the highest earners don't receive disproportionate benefits.

  • 13:32
    The Irish Times And he mentions the touted "rainy day fund", saying that from 2018 onwards the government will start building up a fund of €2.5 billion.
  • 13:36
    The Irish Times

    So, what have the parties being saying for the most part so far?

    Fine Gael: If we're in power we'll ensure the economy continues to grow.

    Sinn Féin: Fine Gael have performed the fastest fiscal flip-flop, they want tax breaks for the wealthy.

    Labour: Vote for us and everyone can have a job by 2018.

    Fianna Fáil: The only reason the economy is recovering is because Fine Gael is implementing our policies.

  • 14:02
    The Irish Times Irish Times video journalist Bryan O'Brien watching the Green Party campaign launch in 3D.
  • 14:08
    The Irish Times At the Green Party launch Eamon Ryan said he has heard nothing about climate change from any of the parties. It really is an issue that has very little resonance with the electorate. Candidates could probably row up to the doorsteps of flooded homes in the midlands and not hear a word about the environment.
  • 14:22
    The Irish Times

    But returning to economics, an article appeared in the New York Times yesterday that said Dubliners have responded to the recession by eating sandwiches at lunchtime. It considers a €6 sandwich "frugally priced" but then it also quotes someone apparently saying Irish people used to spend €100 each on sandwiches.  

    It mentions a restaurant owned by a couple named Jason and Zuzanna. It also contains passages such as "a range of well-executed sandwiches" and "a bright and lively update on the traditional chicken salad sandwich".

    Maybe this is what that bank is referring to when it blathers on with its nonsense about "backing brave".


  • 14:25
    The Irish Times
  • 14:26
    The Irish Times In fiscal space, no one can hear you scream about fiscal space. Just remember that, Fine Gael.
  • 14:38
    The Irish Times The AAA-PBP, or the Happy Bee Party, press conference should be underway now in Buswell's Hotel.
  • 14:40
    The Irish Times
    Ah yes, look at the happy bees there in Buzzwell's, about to put the sting into GE16.
  • 14:56
    The Irish Times In an interview with Sean Moncrieff on Newstalk, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe says, among other things, his favourite US president is FDR, he would like to be able to climb up and down walls, he thinks about listening to music when he's alone in his car (currently he's thinking about listening to the entire Elvis Costello back catalogue), he used to be completely fluent in Irish but has since lost nearly all of it. He cries a lot, especially at sporting events.  
  • 14:58
    The Irish Times

    Meanwhile, back at the hive, the AAA-PBP alliance has been outlining its campaign position. They want to end the “politics of cronyism, tribal politics and injustice”. The people feel betrayed by the outgoing Government, they say.

  • 15:10
    The Irish Times
  • 15:16
    The Irish Times The Green Party has become the first political party to say it would stick to the limits set out by the IrishFiscal Advisory Council  for spending over the next five years, Harry McGee reports.
  • 15:26
    Here's Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin channelling Queen Elizabeth during a meet and greet in Waterford. Photograph: Frank Miller
    Here's Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin channelling Queen Elizabeth during a meet and greet in Waterford. Photograph: Frank Miller
  • 15:28
    The Irish Times Anyway, we'll leave it there for today. Thanks for reading.