Election 2014

The latest from the election trail and all the rest of today's news in our liveblog

Steven Carroll Wed, May 21
LIVE: Election 2014

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  • 09:23
    Good morning and welcome to Elections Live here on irishtimes.com
  • 09:25
    We're coming towards the home stretch in the local and European elections campaigns, with the majority of people due to go to the polls in less than 48 hours. Voters in Dublin West and Longford-Westmeath constituencies will also be electing a new TDs.
  • 09:26
    It's Steven Carroll here to guide you through the day's news. You can reach me on Twitter at @carrollste
  • 09:33
    Fiach Kelly and Marie O'Halloran report that Labour has retreated to northside to try save its European seat in the Dublin constituency.  

    Strategists believe Emer Costello only has a chance of retaining the seat she was given when Proinsias de Rossa retied mid-term is to focus on the northside and some pockets of the south inner city. A focus on attacking Fianna Fail is also thought to be necessary, according to this story
  • 09:35
    Ms Costello, who was on 9 per cent in this week’s  Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll, is in a chasing pack of candidates behind Lynn Boylan (SF) and Brian Hayes (FG), who seemed happy to play off one another and squeeze the likes of Labour and Fianna Fail further into the middle during last night's RTE PrimeTime Dublin European election debate  
  • 09:36
    That said, members of Team Costello were canvassing at St Stephen's Green Luas stop this morning, so perhaps it's not an all or nothing focus on the northside
  • 09:41

    Elsehwere on the camapign trail, Harry McGee reports on  the vital role of Dublin shopping centres in recent election campaigns, which he says is almost worth a minor thesis.  

    He joined Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin in Dundrum to canvass for European election candidate Mary Fitzpatrick, who needs to win a seat to help the party rebuild some kind of standing in the capital.  

  • 09:44

    Rory Costello, course director for European studies at the University of Limerick, has a piece in today's Irish Times on an online tool which voters can use to see the parties they most agree with  by answering questions on issues related to European integration, economic and social policy.  

    The article is here and the tool can be found here  

  • 09:49
    Ronan McGreevy has a piece on the local election picture in his native Leitrim, where the number of seats available has fallen but Fianna Fail and Fine Gael look set to retain their stranglehold on local politics. You can find that here
  • 09:54
    Meanwhile, former minister for justice Alan Shatter is back in the news...but should he not receive his €70,000 severance payment?
  • 09:54
  • 10:04
    Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore is due on Newstalk's Pat Kenny show shortly, so I'll keep you posted on what he has to say there...
  • 10:05
    Kathryn Hayes has this  piece in today's Irish Times on the local election race in Limerick, where two councils have been merged into one and  86 candidates are in the running.  
  • 10:06
    Pat Kenny starts off Gilmore with a question about a medical card being restored to a girl
  • 10:06
    Gilmore - there are 1.8 million medical cards, up 250,000, with two in five people having one
  • 10:08
    Gilmore: repeated medical card reviews problematic. 96% of those reviewed retain them. Should be a period of notice given to those who face losses so they can appeal and the HSE can do more probing
  • 10:09

    Kenny - HSE awash with bureaucrats.  

    Gilmore - administration of medical card system centralised and one of the problems is that local decision making has been taken away. Local decision makers would have known special cases.  

  • 10:11
    On to the electoral difficulties, Gilmore doesn't think his leadership hinges on election outcome. Remembers making point before entering Government. "We knew it was going to be challenging and going to be difficult....could have become largest party in opposition".  
  • 10:11

    Says he spoke to Phil Prendergast, despite her disloyalty, "some times people say things in the course of an election campaign".

    Many people still undecided, he says.  

  • 10:13

    Kenny asks when does his leadership become unviable - how few councillors.  

    Gilmore - we introduced Dublin Bikes system and have 190 councillors running. We never had a councillor caught up in the tribunals. Labour in nobody's pocket.  

    Doesn't have a number set, wants all 190 elected

  • 10:14
    On to his taking of foreign affairs posts, wasn't a mistake. Had to restore Irish reputation. Couldn't read an article about Ireland at that point that didn't have a half dead horse in a half finished estate
  • 10:15
    "I accept there were optics about that" but we have renegotiated bailout, FDI rising and 5,000 jobs a month being created.  
  • 10:19

    Gilmore sees himself leading the Labour Party into the next election. Not interested in being a European commissioner.

    Kenny - is it not an escape hatch?

    Gilmore - not looking for an escape hatch. Happy with work we have done.  

  • 10:20
    Gilmore - Taoiseach and I will discuss composition of the Government after these elections. He won't reveal where he might end up afterwards.  
  • 10:22

    Pat Kenny raises Labour's pre-election ad where it slagged off Fine Gael.  

    Gilmore says Labour raised minimum wage, took people out of USC but of course there are things we have not done and things we'd like to do if in Government alone.  

  • 10:23
    Gilmore denies SF, Socialists, Independents are outperforming them and says they're not coming up with ways to balance the books
  • 10:24

    Interview checklist:

    "Polls are not elections"

    "We inherited an appalling mess"

    "Job we have to complete is make recovery real for people"

  • 10:25

    Kenny moves on to Shatter's €70,000...Howlin screwed up by not signing document?

    Gilmore - I know Shatter, an honourable man who was party to ending severance payments, he'll honour that

  • 10:27

    Asked about €38m Dun Laoghaire library - a nonsense when people are looking for homes?

    Gilmore - design and appearance of it are controversial. I believe it will be successful.  

  • 10:28

    Gilmore believes he'll still be Labour leader in a fortnight. "Once I take on a job I stay with it..."

    My intention is to complete my mandate and job in Government.  

  • 10:29
    Will be an electoral dividend for work done by Labour, says Gilmore - I assume meaning 2016 rather than 2014
  • 10:41
    Dan Keenan has a piece today on the local elections in Co Cavan, where the Ballyjamesduff electoral area is the least populated in the State with eight candidates running for six seats - with the choice between four FG, three FF and one SF candidate
  • 10:45
    Barry Cowen, brother of the former taosieach Brian, says he hopes the party will make incremental gains and regain trust lost by voters in recent years. Mary Minihan reports
  • 10:46
  • 10:47
  • 10:48
  • 11:00
    Kathy Sheridan joined Matt Carthy and Thomas Byrne (not together) on the campaign trail in the Midlands Northwest constituency. Read about that here
  • 11:01
  • 11:05

    Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said he is relaxed about polls finding that people believe he was an IRA member.  

    “The IRA has long since left the stage”.

    More from Ronan McGreevy here  

  • 11:06
  • 11:06
  • 11:07
  • 11:08
  • 11:09
  • 11:17

    The Life Institute - which describes itself as  an "important and influential voice on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, embryo research and the importance of the family" - has compiled a list of candidates contesting the local election that are seen as pro-life (or as we say around here anti-abortion).  

    The vast, vast majority of the list of 157 (out of a total of 2,040 candidates) come from the Independent and Fianna Fáil ranks. And the vast majority of that minority are men.  

  • 11:17
    You can view the list here
  • 11:33
  • 11:34
    Green Party seems keen to stress Mary Fitzpatrick not spot on when she says she's the only Dublin European election candidate with a business background.  
  • 11:35
  • 11:39
    Enda Kenny says he can't force people to do anything but he would recommend that Alan Shatter not accept his severance payment.  
  • 11:39
  • 11:41
    Our man in the US, Simon Carswell, reports that  the son of a Co Donegal emigrant was among the winners picked to lead their parties in the US midterm elections in November as primary voters in six states selected their Democratic and Republican candidates to run for Congress. More on that here
  • 11:44
    No ministerial fanfare but Aldi says it will be hiring 450 new staff across the State before the end of 2014
  • 12:08
    Here's a piece by Gerry Moriarty looking at the election race in Donegal, where the big question seems to be how well is Sinn Féin going to do.
  • 12:16
  • 12:17
    Here's more on the aforementioned news that Aldi is to hire 450 people
  • 12:42
    Ben Gilroy of Direct Democracy Ireland is engaging with the public on his twitter feed.  
  • 12:42
  • 12:43
  • 12:45
    The trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick on charges of failing to tell the bank’s auditors about loans he received has been put back to February next year. More on that here
  • 12:46
  • 12:50
    Given the volume of them lately, Trinity College professor Michael Marsh has pulled together a poll of polls for RTÉ, read about that here
  • 12:56
    A Green Party local election candidate has been defending a publicity stunt on the N11 which a few people contacted here to say might be a little dangerous as it could distract motorists. Cara Augustenborg, contesting the Killiney Shankill area, offered this explanation on her Facebook page
  • 12:57
  • 13:00
  • 13:04
  • 13:05

    Over to the Dublin-West byelection, where Fianna Fáil candidate David McGuinness has warned that “a property tax bombshell” is looming and could result in householders in Dublin 15 facing massive increases in the bills.

    “A clause in the property tax legislation means there is a major issue coming down the line for households in Dublin West.   Fine Gael and Labour have provided for a revaluation of properties in 2016. The previous valuation date of May 2013 was close to the point when property values hit their lowest level.”  

  • 13:07
  • 13:10
    On RTÉ News at One, Ruairi Quinn says he is to set up a taskforce to examine issue of closing language schools.
  • 13:11
    Quinn - trying to make sure students don't miss out. Visa status won't be changed. Other schools have a vested interest in helping us deal with students who can no longer attend classes.
  • 13:12
    Quinn - Schools suspended by INIS becasue of concerns over data regarding visas and the like. Want to make alternative arrangements. In everybody's interest we don't get bad publicity internationally. Hopes proper schools don't get a bad reputation because of failings of others.  
  • 13:13
  • 13:14
    Quinn - Five langauge schools have closed down. Concerns Government, reputational damage first and secondly we want to attract international students. We will ultimately move to point where schools can't invite students in without having a quality mark of some sort.  
  • 13:14
    Quinn - Operators of schools lightly regulated if regulated at all.  
  • 13:16

    On to the election, Jonathan Clynch says Labour on 7 per cent in poll of polls.  

    Quinn - of course we're concerned. But number of undecided people doesn't come across in polls. We're working to save country not on sidelines jumping up and down.  

  • 13:16
    We have saved many people from some of the worst aspects of the recession, Quinn says.  
  • 13:17
    On to Shatter and his €70k, Quinn says he supports the Taoiseach and that Shortall, Penrose and Creighton did not take same payment when they left. Adds that Fianna Fail brought them in initially. The payments, not the three politicians  
  • 13:24

    Here's what Taoiseach Enda Kenny had to say about Alan Shatter, and what Ruairi Quinn agrees with.

    Mr Kenny said his recommendation to Mr Shatter would be that he should not accept his “technical entitlement” to the payment but noted that he could not force anyone on the matter.

    “The position is that the Govenrment of which he was a member, of which I am a member myself, mader it perfectly clear that we wanted these ended,” Mr Kenny told reporters in Dublin at a Fine Gael campaign event this morning.

    “Clearly, former Minister Shatter – and I don’t want to be doing this over the airwaves obviously – there’s a technical entitlement in law, because it wasn’t signed before Alan resigned,” the Taoiseeach added.

    “The point is that this Government made a number of decisions in this area and the Government decided to abolish all severance pay for all ministers. The Government as a unit decided that.

    “The legislation was prepared, was approved by Government, was put through the House and signed into law. For whatever technical reason it wasn’t signed until last week.”

  • 13:25
  • 13:32

    As well as recommending that Alan Shatter should not take what's coming to him, the Taoiseach also used Fine Gael's last election press conference to attack Sinn Féin's economic policy as not credible. Arthur Beesley reports  


  • 13:32
  • 13:39
  • 13:53

    SIPTU members in Irish Rail have today voted by 51 per cent  to 49 per cent to reject a Labour Court recommendation issued in relation to cost containment plans at the company. The TSSA union has already accepted the proposals and the NBRU ballot result is expected next week.

  • 14:01
  • 14:14
    People Before Proft TD Joan Collins has an opinion piece today on water charges, and how they have been the big ticket item in these elections as they are another austerity tax. You can read that here
  • 14:19
    Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan argues  the other side of the coin to Collins, saying the Government sought to make water charges fair, equitable and affordable. More on that here
  • 14:28
  • 14:37
  • 14:51

    Email in from Friends of the Earth which says that 450 local election candidates have signed the "Keep Ireland Fracking Free Pledge".

    The environmental group says that the figure represents about 30 per cent of those running, which is incorrect - it's more like 22 per cent.  

  • 14:52
  • 15:03
    Bookmaker Paddy Power has Socialist Party Candidate Ruth Coppinger as the odds on (1/4) favourite to win the Dublin West byelection. David McGuinness of Fianna Fáil is next (4/1); followed by David Hall (8/1); Paul Donnelly of Sinn Féin at 9/1; Vincent Browne star and Fine Gael senator Eamonn Coghlan is at 16/1; Labour party chair Lorraine Mulligan is all the way out at 100/1 (even though it's Joan Burton country and Pat Nulty won the seat for Labour in the byelection after Brian Lenihan passed away) and Roderic O'Gorman of the Green Party is 200/1.
  • 15:06
  • 15:16

    Press statement from Labour's Emer Costello who says she  can bring the new European Parliament, and Martin Schulz the likely new President of the Commission, "behind Ireland".  

    "No other candidate in Dublin can play such a key role in Ireland’s future."
    Probably a few heads she was in a televised debate with last night who might think differently

  • 15:18
    In other news, former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm has arrived at a Boston court to testify before a US bankruptcy judge in a long-anticipated case to decide whether he can have a fresh financial start. Simon Carswell reports
  • 15:30
  • 15:36
  • 15:37

    Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath has criticised comments from Minister for Finance Michael Noonan promising that the Government will address the medical cards issue ‘after the local elections’.

    He says they are "a cynical effort to deflect attention from a policy he was centrally involved in devising".

  • 15:40
  • 16:03
  • 16:19

    Police in the Australian state of Victoria are looking for two men with “Irish accents” in connection with an alleged assault in Melbourne earlier this year. The incident took place on Prince’s Bridge, Southbank in the centre of the city on the night of St Patrick’s Day.

    Genevieve Carbery has more here

  • 16:32

    The European election campaign in Dublin is now centred on who will take the third seat, says Socialist Party  MEP Paul Murphy, who believes he can out do his rivals in Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.  

    Michael O'Regan reports

  • 16:34

    More on the aforementioned task force to look at the closure of language schools, Department of Education says the goals will be to urgently:

    Coordinate efforts regarding protection of learners affected by private sector college closures;

    Determine the number of students who have not yet been satisfactorily accommodated (either through placement or immigration extension).

    Assess what existing capacity is available in the sector to make reasonable accommodation for genuine students and what further steps need to be taken.

    Oversee a system that seeks to make reasonable accommodation for students.  

  • 16:38
  • 16:42
    The Jackie Kennedy letters, exclusively reported in The Irish Times last week, are to be withdrawn from auction. More to follow...
  • 16:44
  • 16:51
  • 17:04
    Ok folks, we're going to call its quits for today.Tomorrow is the last day of campaigning before the local and European election polls open on Friday morning. Some voters in Dublin West and Longford Westmeath will get to cast three ballots. Some offshore voters will do their democratic duty tomorrow. We'll be back in the morning. As always, keep an eye on irishtimes.com for the latest news.  Thanks for reading.