Daniel McConnell Political Editor at Irish Examiner
Fianna Fáil’s giveaway manifesto, which was launched today, was aimed at offering an alternative, according to party leader Micheal Martin.
He argued with some passion that the widely held belief that Fine Gael will lead the next Government and Enda Kenny will be Taoiseach again is wrong.
He says that he is a credible alternative, even if he sat at the Cabinet table for the 14 years that saw Ireland’s boom and bust.
“We made mistakes, we have acknowledged those mistakes,” Micheal said humbly.
The one thing he wouldn’t rule out was doing a deal of some sort with Fine Gael after the election.
At least six opportunities were afforded to Micheal at his launch at the Wood Quay venue in Dublin to categorically rule out such an arrangement, but he managed not to.
You see, this has become significant as a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition is the only viable option in terms of achieving an overall majority.
It suits Martin to keep the issue alive as it makes his party relevant in terms of the formation of Government.
The other controversial matter from the launch was that Martin said that if he does lead the party into Government, then former ministers like Mary Hanafin and Willie O’Dea would be considered for ministerial office the same as everyone else.
Away from Fianna Fáil, the fall-out of the double gangland murders in Dublin continued to dominate the agenda, when it emerged that journalists in the Independent Group of newspapers have had their lives threatened.
Within an hour of the news emerging, a plethora of statements were released from political leaders condemning the threats.
While such swift reaction from the leaders was welcome but they are clearly driven by the fact we are in the midst of a General Election.
The whole saga seemed to get the better of Renua Ireland leader, Lucinda Creighton, who said the threats represented a “national emergency” and that the outgoing Government should suspend their election campaigns to address the threat.
"The government need to suspend their campaign and urgently meet to agree a total and absolute Garda Response to the Gangland Crisis. The Minister providing €5 million to buy more guns and ammunition for the Gardaí will do nothing to restoring order to our streets,” she said.
Such daft comments give a sense of desperation from Creighton who’s party is fighting to remain relevant in the battle of ideas.
For a spectacularly dull campaign, the audacious entry of Danny Healy-Rae in to the race is a welcome source of light relief.
Just a whisker inside the noon deadline yesterday, Danny arrived in the county registrar’s office in Tralee to declare himself a candidate in Kerry alongside his brother Michael.
A “joint decision” between the two brothers was reached for them both to run.
Danny Healy-Rae represents the Killarney electoral area on Kerry County Council. He received 4,388 first preference votes, more than twice the quota, in the last local elections in 2014.
His entry into the race marks a game changer and the spectre of two Healy Raes in the Dail is enough to give the likes of Arthur Spring and Brendan Griffin nightmares.
With nominations now closed, a total number of 551 candidates will contest the General Election and compete for the 158 seats in Dail Eireann.
Based on the forms submitted to returning officers all across the country, Fine Gael has 88 candidates, 27 of them are female.
The Labour Party is only running 36 candidates, 13 of whom are female.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil is running 71 candidates, of which 22 are female, while Sinn Féin is running 50 candidates, 18 of whom are women.
A total of 306 candidates from independents and others will contest this election.
There are 160 independent candidates in the field.
Within that there are 14 for the Social Democrats and 31 for Anti-Austerity-Alliance People-Before-Profit (AAA PBP) group. The Green Party has 40 candidates and Renua has 26.