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Fine Gael ministers launch attack on Fianna Fáil's record in government

Fine Gael ministers launch attack on Fianna Fáil's record in government

Ministers have launched attacks on Fianna Fáil and its time in government, firing the starting gun in what could be a bitter general election campaign between the major parties.

Cabinet members homed in on opposition leader, Micheál Martin, and his track record — despite the fact that the election has yet to be called.

Health Minister Simon Harris criticised Mr Martin, after the latter's morning interview on RTÉ radio.

He tweeted: “Who is this new politician/agent of change...oh he's not new....he was in Cabinet that left the country bust. He was the minister for foreign affairs who lost the EU referendum. He was the minister for health who set up the HSE. A TD since the [Charles] Haughey era.”

Mr Harris went on to say that the EU-IMF Troika which bailed out Ireland during the crash had “to be brought in Micheál last time you were allowed near power”.

He added: "The barrage of criticism from the health minister comes ahead of an expected meeting, potentially today or tomorrow, between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Martin. This may mark the end of the confidence and supply deal between the two parties and therefore the end of the 32 Dáil.

Both leaders met last week and tried to find agreement on extending the deal. But the testy exchanges between the two parties, before the start to the election, point to the end of that pact.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty also weighed into the criticism of Fianna Fáil.

She warned the country can not return to “the boom and bust” years under Fianna Fáil in which, she argued, 2,000 hospital beds have been closed: “Then Fianna Fáil ruined the economy and we had no money to spend.”

She argued that Fine Gael has been unable to fulfill a previous pledge to end hospital trolley waits as Fianna Fáil has “ruined the economy". She noted that the Government has a rainy day fund of billions of euro that would prevent the country falling into a crisis like it did in 2010.

Ms Doherty argued that Mr Martin has not taken responsibility for the economic crash when the party was in power up until 2011, adding: “If Fianna Fáil haven't even learnt the lessons from their own past, how in God's name can they be trusted not to make them again?”

Despite the strong words, Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman, Michael McGrath, fired back on Twitter that Ms Doherty and other Fine Gael TDs would "literally say anything to win this election. Looks like their campaign will be based on spin, bluster and fear”.

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