Enda Kenny aims to bore us into voting for him

Like a war bride waving her husband off to battle, Tánaiste Joan Burton waved Enda Kenny off from the steps of Government Buildings yesterday.

“This is not the end,” he said as they shook hands awkwardly in front of the assembled media.

Joan and Enda have endured, rather enjoyed their working relationship, with the body language suggesting yesterday the two could barely tolerate being in each other’s company.

Enda, having finally decided to end the 31st Dáil, got in his BMW and went off to the Áras, leaving a forlorn looking Joan behind to address the media.

Earlier on, Enda had annoyed the Opposition by making his swift announcement to the Dáil and leaving before they got a chance to respond.

He then took to Twitter to announce the election date which as expected will be Friday February 26.

Within minutes, the myriad of parties, alliances and independents had taken to the airwaves to give us a first taster of what they will be saying in order to convince us, “da pee-pull” as Enda says, to vote for them.

There was a lot of talk of the so-called “fiscal space”. In layman terms, this seems to be how much more money parties want to spend between now and 2021.

While the prudent economists insist there is only about €3.2bn extra to spend, the political parties seemed to think they have up to €12bn to spend.

All sounds very auction politics, one thinks.

In a nutshell, this was the sales pitch from the parties and independent groupings yesterday.

Fine Gael are promising stability and to keep the recovery going.

They have a three-step plan, not a five-point plan mind, but a three-point plan.

Dull as dishwater but they hope even if people don’t like them, they will feel compelled to vote for them.

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Labour are promising to provide balance, because as we all know, too much Fine Gael is not in anyone’s interest.

Leader Joan Burton also delivered quite the spanking to her deputy Alan “Power is a drug” Kelly who she described as an “obedient employee…colleague”.

Fianna Fáil are saying they can deliver fairness, but gave precious little detail of how they would do it. Instead they went on the attack yesterday, hoping people wouldn’t notice.

Sinn Féin, in a well-trained mantra, are promising to tax the rich and reward the poor. They insist their policies are fully costed but many remain to be convinced of that.

Also for Gerry Adams and Co, the shadow of “Good Republican” Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy looms large following the description of him as a “mass murderer” in a BBC Spotlight programme.

Shane Ross’ Independent Alliance have attacked the lack of reform in the Dáil and the continuation of what it calls crony appointments by the Government. The loose alliance of TDs are unable to promise much by way of specifics.

The Lucinda Creighton Party, sorry I mean Renua Ireland, have been brave in pushing their 23% flat tax policy which they insist is backed up and verified by KPMG.

They deserve credit for offering up a genuinely brave policy which will force a debate on tax but they have yet to shake the image that they all sit to the right of Donald Trump.

She said they would be looking to get 10 seats, but the pundits give them less than half of those.

No, we are not done yet, still a few more to go through.

The ‘Anti-Austerity Alliance/People for Profit/ Tirade Before Breakast’ grouping focused their message on the anger people feel. Paul Murphy beat the anti-water drum hard yesterday and it is clear that is his pitch to the electorate.

They hope to get at least seven seats in the upcoming election. As the old saying goes, the first item of the agenda for the left is the split, but the alliance believe they can resolve any differences to remain together during the lifetime of the next government.

The Social Democrats, who don’t have just one leader but three — Stephen Donnelly, Roisin Shortall and Catherine Murphy — also had an interesting pitch.

They are not promising to cut taxes like everyone else is. They instead want you to have better services in your hospitals and schools. Prioritising the delivery of intangible services down the line is a much harder sell than easy straight forward tax cuts, and while it is a more mature approach, the jury is out as to whether it is a wise strategy.

But as the campaign gears up, anyone fancying a late entry into the race has until Thursday, February 11, to throw their name in to the hat, we were told.

Former Fianna Fáil ministers Conor Lenihan and Noel Dempsey were spotted in Leinster House in the past couple of days. Could they be eyeing up a surprise return?

And this was day one.

Only three more weeks of this. Oh boy.

For more election news, analysis and general banter join us HERE

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