A FIANNA FÁIL TD said his party will have to accept defeat at the next general election, with a possible doomsday scenario of retaining just 50 seats.
Outspoken backbencher Ned O’Keeffe believes a number of high-profile Fianna Fáil TDs will lose their seats — and he admits he’s not overly confident of retaining his own in the Cork East constituency, which he has held since 1982.
O’Keeffe, who was a former junior minister for agriculture, said Fianna Fáil supporters now have to prepare for time out of Government and concentrate on winning power back at the following election.
“This Government won’t last until 2012, although it will get most of the way. I predict it will fall next year. We will get through the next budget, although it will be a difficult one. We can’t hit pensions or social welfare; we will have to find savings elsewhere,” he said.
The TD predicted that the Finance Bill would “squeeze through” the Dáil next spring, but things would go downhill for the party after that, culminating in a general election, probably in the autumn of 2011.
“We will suffer a serious defeat, there is no doubt in my mind about that,” he said. “It is now time to set the groundwork for the election after that.”
He predicted Enda Kenny would be the next Taoiseach in a FG/Labour coalition, despite rumblings within Fine Gael over his leadership.
However, Deputy O’Keeffe said he believed a Kenny-led coalition wouldn’t last the full five-year term.
“It will probably only last around two and a half years, that’s my prediction. Labour has two ideologies and that will cause the cracks to appear,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
He said he believes that even highly vocal TDs, such as Tipperary South Mattie McGrath, won’t be re-elected.
McGrath recently lost the Fianna Fáil whip after objecting to stag hunting and dog breeding legislation.
Deputy O’Keeffe said he knew the greyhound industry was important and that’s why McGrath spoke out against the proposed dog breeding bill. But he said there were far more serious things for TDs to debate.
“People want more serious politics. They want to hear the bread-on-the-table stuff in this day and age,” Deputy O’Keeffe said.
He said he still had considerable faith in Brian Cowen, who he likened to wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
“He’s doing a good job in what is the biggest crisis facing Ireland since the Emergency and I support him.”
The Mitchelstown-based politician said he admired the Green Party for sticking with its principles, and claimed it was the Progressive Democrats (PDs) who had ruined the country’s economy with their version of “Reaganomics.”
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