Tánaiste admits Coalition tension

Tánaiste Joan Burton has admitted to tensions within the Coalition as she said it was too early for Labour and Fine Gael to consider a pact at the general election.

Tánaiste admits Coalition tension

The Labour leader was responding to calls from a former key strategist of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s for the Coalition to fight the campaign as one block, not separate parties.

Controversial ex-Rehab chief, and former prime backroom adviser to the Taoiseach, Frank Flannery, told the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Donegal, that such a move would limit government losses.

Responding to Mr Flannery’s description of Labour and Fine Gael being in a “bad marriage”, Ms Burton acknowledged tensions between the parties.

“I suppose it has been a marriage of convenience. Lots of marriages have tension and some of that tension can be very creative. I think there has been a lot of creative tension between the two parties on different occasions. It’s far too early to talk of electoral pacts,” the Tánaiste said.

In a message aimed at the Fine Gael leadership, Mr Flannery said the Coalition’s best hope of success was to campaign on stability — an attraction that would be diluted if they went into the election as distinct parties.

“If the two parties fight the election using the traditional model they will lose a lot of that essential brand quality of security and wisdom and foresight,” he said.

In an acknowledgement that such a move would cause serious concern in Labour ranks, Mr Flannery — who quit his Fine Gael post after refusing to give evidence to the Public Accounts Committee regarding his time at Rehab — said the relationship between the two parties had been strained, but productive.

“It has been like a bad marriage for 80 or 90 years but the fact is they have, and can, work very well together.” He said with politics fragmented, a Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil coalition may be a “patriotic imperative” after the next election.

The remarks came as former Fianna Fáil leadership contender Mary Hanafin warned against any suggestion of a “grand coalition” between her party and Fine Gael after the Dáil showdown which must be held by next April.

Ms Hanafin, who is likely to try to make a Dáil comeback, said such an alliance would leave room for a radical left-wing alternative which would damage Ireland in the long term. Ms Hanafin warned such a deal would be bad for the country.

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton called for wide-scale reform of Irish politics, and urged the introduction of a law banning reckless lending.

Former Fianna Fáil minister Noel Dempsey said he accepted responsibility for his part in decisions leading up to the bailout, as he warned that changes had not been made since, and the same mistakes would be made again in the future.

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