Elections

What's happening on the campaign trail - and more

Dan Griffin, Fiach Kelly Thu, May 15
 
LIVE: Elections

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  • 08:58
    Welcome to Elections Live, where we'll be keeping you up to date with the day's campaign trail toings and froings and any other detritus floating around the news cloud.
  • 09:02
    It's Thursday, May 15th, which means there's really only a matter of hours to go before we can all start bingeing our weekends away. A new report reveals Ireland is second to none when it comes binge drinking, well, we're second to Austria. But it's still an indictment on how we spend our leisure time, some would argue.
  • 09:10

    Our top politics story this morning focuses on the Government's Construction 2020 plan, which includes proposals for new State interventions in support of first-time mortgage lending to young couples buying new homes.

    The Coalition has spent the past couple of days defending the plan against criticism that it will reinflate the property bubble. Yesterday, writes Arthur Beesley, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore insisted there would be no return to the bad practices of the past in which government policy served only to magnify the property boom and the subsequent crash.

  • 09:35

    Here is our suite  of election coverage from today's paper.


    Kathy Sheridan was on the campaign trail in Mayo where  enemies of the Tasoieach, namely Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary, accuse him of refusing to put on the county jersey. "The Taoiseach has shown," says Calleary, "a marked reluctance to fight for Mayo in his three years in office."


    Barry Roche has a constituency profile of Cork County Council where he reckons several constituents are staring at defeat.


    And continuing the Cork theme, Ukip leader Nigel Farage, a man seldom seen without a pint in his hand, is here pictured gleefully clutching a Murphy's on a visit yesterday to Belfast's Europa Hotel. Gerry Moriarty's accompanying report outlines the eurosceptic MEP's attempt to appeal to Catholic voters.


    You can also read Marese McDonagh's constituency profile of Sligo (in the paper, I'm afraid. That one's not online just yet), where everyone expects Margaret Gormley to romp home and Arthur Beesley's report on the differences of opinion between the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste on vote transfers.

  • 09:47
  • 10:01

    Irish Times Political Correspondent Fiach Kelly is out and about today and will be pitching in with political and election news, gossip and analysis.

  • 10:02

    We're now entering the final week of a campaign that seems to have snuck up on everyone at the last minute. Given the recent justice and other controversies, it was almost easy to forget there were posters hanging off lampposts all over the country.


    Yet we are coming up on the last weekend of campaigning in a contest that will have huge political consequences on a national level, both for party leaders and for the future direction of the Government and how it shapes the next budget.

  • 10:04

    There is one easy reminder that an election is indeed underway: the Government, all of a sudden, has good news to announce. Hence yesterday's construction launch (won't start a boom or bubble, m'lud) and the stimulus package announced earlier this week by Brendan Howlin.

    More launches are scheduled for today, with Labour's local election manifesto being allowed into daylight later this afternoon. Sinn Féin will also launch its local plan this morning.

    Taoiseach Enda Kenny is down in Wicklow at a Local Enterprise Office and will be canvassing with Fine Gael Euro candidate Simon Harris, while Michéal Martin is canvassing with local election candidates in Co Wexford.

  • 10:13

    And still Justice issues rumble on, with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald due to make a Dáil speech on the Guerin Report later today. Miriam Lord was back in the Dáil yesterday after days on the campaign trail, and she's asking why Paddy still doesn't know the details of Martin Callinan's resignation/sacking (take your pick).

    Tom Brady in the Indo has an interesting take on continuing questions over Brian Purcell, Fitzgerald's sec gen, who Brady says deserves better than the new minister's "dithering".

  • 10:29
  • 10:54

    In other news today, Gardaí and health officials are extremely concerned for the wellbring of UCD students after a number of them were hospitalised after taking a drug which causes extreme and erratic behaviour.

    But the most popular story is this cat (yes, a supposedly apathetic cat) saving a young boy from a dog attack.

  • 11:08

    But while all that's going on, our film correspondent Donald Clarke has been over in Cannes where Grace of Monaco opened last night. The film,  which deals with the French government’s attempts to impose income tax on Monaco during the early 1960s, has been the subject of much dispute in the lead-up to the event, writes Clarke.


    Surviving members of the late princess's family have denounced it as being overly glamorised and said it relied on "dubious historical references".


    The current ruler of Monaco Prince Albert did not travel the 50km from Monte Carlo to Cannes for the premier.


    Nicole Kidman, who places the eponymous Grace, said this made her feel sad "because I think the film has no malice towards the family".


    She added: “I still have respect and I want them to know the performance is done with love. And if they ever did see it they would see there was an enormous amount of love for their parents.”


    But what's the film like?


    Brutal, apparently.

  • 11:25
    After what was hardly the most exciting contest in the world, Limerick TD Dan Neville was elected chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman, as Stephen Collins reports this morning.

    Charlie Flanagan set the bar relatively high, striking  a position semi-independent  of the party leadership. Dan Neville is not known as the most outspoken of TDs,  while well liked, and he does no come to the position with the high profile Flanagan had (he was a senior frontbencher until he went against Enda in the heave).  

    Flanagan was also  chair during the abortion debates within Fine Gael, which saw numerous TDs  leave the parliamentary party. It is unlikely Neville will be faced with such acrimonious splits during his term. FK.

     

  • 11:27
    So the Oireachtas Justice Committee is to hear from Brian Purcell the week after next, which just so happens to be after polling day. Funny, that. FK.
  • 11:41

    And what's this? A matter of days before polling and the Government has announced a €30 million grant to assist the refurbishment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh GAA stadium in Cork City.

    “This grant from the Government is just the impetus we need to get this important project up and running," said Cork County Board chairman Bob Ryan.

    Trebles all round then.

  • 11:48
  • 11:55

    This is more of it now:

    €3.5 million has been secured to upgrade the N59 at Moycullen, Galway Bay FM reports today.

    According to local Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne, the now shovel-ready project is the result of a 40-year campaign. The allocation then has come at  just the right time.

     

  • 12:06
    Mark Hilliard, our colleague in the newsroom, was greeted at the DART station this morning by Fine Gael Fingal County Council candidate Keith Redmond, who was handing out little tubes of toothpaste.  

    It turns out Mr Redmond is a dentist,  but I'm not sure handing out toothpaste at a DART station first thing in the morning is a good idea - aren't you implying the commuters have morning breath? FK.    
  • 12:11
    That's all well and good, but these days you'd be hard pressed to make this route without passing a single Spar in which to buy an €8.99 bottle of plonk. And at 6 units a bottle (more probably) that's binge drinking. Of course, you don't have to have it all in one go but, sure, I've opened it now so I might as well finish it.
  • 12:26

    The justice  story that just won't go away, with more questions raised today.  Sinn Féin's Mary-Lou McDonald  has told the Dáil Enda Kenny's diary, released under FOI,  shows a 7.30am meeting with Alan Shatter and senior justice officials on the Sunday the Attorney General told the Taoiseach about the recording of phone calls at Garda stations.  
     
    Kenny has always maintained he was first told about the taping by  the AG that  Sunday afternoon, and that  Shatter wasn't told until 24 hours later.  The former Minister  for Justice had also just returned from a  Patrick's Day trip  to Mexico - so why the dawn meeting? FK.
     

  • 12:28

    Mary-Lou said she wants to know why the meeting was scheduled so early; who exactly (which officials) was at it; what did they discuss and why, if this meeting did take place, has the Taoiseach not made any mention of it yet?

  • 12:31
    The Tánaiste (taking questions) says the whole issue of taping is the subject of a Commission of Investigation and it "behoves us all" to let that get on with its work. He also says he's not in a position to account for the contents of the Taoiseach's diary and, if the Sinn Féin deputy leader wants to know more about that, she should put the question to Enda Kenny.  
  • 12:42
    Update: Taoiseach spokesman says there is a clerical error in the diary, it should have read 7.30pm on the Monday rather than 7.30am on the Sunday. FK.
  • 12:57

    Yet again, the Government shows impeccable timing when it coms to announcing good news. We just hope that awful plaque is taken off the pitch before the match starts. That's some good pointing there too, boys.


  • 13:07
  • 13:13

    Mary-Lou McDonald is on Radio 1 now discussing this meeting which apparently never happened.


    She said it is up to the Taoiseach himself to make a statement to clarify whether the meeting did or did not go ahead.


    The Government press service has said the meeting didn't take place and that its appearance in the Taoiseach's diary is the result of a clerical error.

  • 13:32
    This tweet was brought to you by the letters L, A, B, O, U and R, and is in no way biased:  
  • 13:50
  • 13:50

    A Dolphin riding sex maniac is the wrong type of mascot to encourage young people to vote in the upcoming European elections, it has been claimed.

    A video launched by the Danish parliament featuring the character Voteman--a polyamorous S&M beefcake who attempts to get young people to vote by punching them in the face--has been dropped following a torrent of complaints.

    Anders Samuelsen, a Liberal Alliance party MP, told the news agency Ritzau: "I can't understand that you would use violence against women, porn, severed heads and the handout of I don't know how many slaps as an argument for people to go and vote."

    I'd say this video is not suitable for young people but, well, they are the target audience.

  • 14:02
    Here's a report from Marie O'Halloran on today's exchanges in the Dáil concerning the phantom meeting between the Taoiseach, Alan Shatter and officials from the Department of Justice.
  • 15:11

    Sinn Féin councillors will be obliged to do everything in their power to root out corruption during the next council term, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said.

    Launching his party’s local election manifesto today, Mr Adams said that planning corruption became so entrenched in the State for so long that nobody was prepared to call a halt to it.

    More...

  • 15:17
    <p>Here's the minty fresh message from FG's Mark Redmond we mentioned earlier. It'll be sponsored dentures next.</p>

    Here's the minty fresh message from FG's Mark Redmond we mentioned earlier. It'll be sponsored dentures next.

  • 15:41

    Now, some more on the "bad drugs" problem reported earlier:

    Gardaí have seized LSD drugs from and address in south Dublin which are believed to be those consumed by a number of UCD students hospitalised earlier this week.

    Mark Hilliard writes that the Donnybrook district drug unit carried out a search of a house at Obelisk Walk, Blackrock where the drug, which is a paper-based combination of LSD and methamphetamine and bearing an illustration of the superhero Captain America, was located.

    The substance is understood to be that consumed by students who were taken ill on Tuesday with symptoms including extreme and erratic behaviour.

    Next these kids will be growing their own vegetables, making their own clothes and listening to Ravi Shankar records.

  • 15:43
  • 15:48
    For the extremely bored among you:

  • 15:49
  • 15:56
    Tell Europe.
  • 16:16
    The new Minister for Justice appears to be about to take up where her predecessor left off:  

    Frances Fitzgerald set for AGSI clash over reforms to see watchdog handle whistleblowers

  • 16:29
    Dáil has just risen until May 27, so we're into full on election mode now. The only political activity that matters from here on in is campaigning. FK.
  • 17:10
    Labour manifesto launch just finished, Gilmore was asked if the Taoiseach should attend the justice committee. He said it is up to the committee to invite him in. Yes, the Government dominated committee. What are the chances? Signing off the blog for evening night now, back tomorrow. FK