Other TDs needed to back Coalition

Former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes has said it will be up to Labour after the election to decide whether the outgoing coalition can do a deal with others to form a government.

Other TDs needed to back Coalition

His comments come after weekend polls again indicate the Coalition is well short of the support needed from voters to form a Government on their own after the election.

Mr Dukes has singled out individual TDs, including Independent Shane Ross, who he says would be best to help make up the numbers for government if needed.

He commented on Enda Kenny’s gaffes in the election campaign, warning that the Fine Gael leader needed to stay “on message” and that he was “not the most agile debater”.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, the former minister for finance spoke candidly on Fine Gael’s campaign so far under Mr Kenny and election troubles lying ahead.

“If the numbers, the combination of Fine Gael and Labour, isn’t enough... it depends a bit on Labour — who are now not as suicidal as they used to be — it will depend on them to say yes they would do a deal and then look for support from among some of the independents. I think that’s where they would go,” said Mr Dukes. “Whether it’s possible or not is a different issue.”

Mr Dukes said overall he thought the campaign for Fine Gael — the party he led between 1987 and 1990 — was going well. But it was early days yet, he said, adding: “For the last couple of weeks, this message about keeping the recovery going, keeping a purposeful approach to government, the argument about stability and reliability, I think has been successfully carried out.”

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He said that, at this stage in every election, the number of undecided voters was usually 20% to 25%.

While not a huge threat to Fine Gael’s chances of returning TDs, the rise of the smaller parties was a “concern”, admitted Mr Dukes. Nonetheless, the situation was not comparable to 1987 when the Progressive Democrats wrestled many seats from Fine Gael, he added: “They [the PDs] had a strong message and they had a number of very high-profile people. I don’t think either applies to Renua or the Social Democrats.”

If Fine Gael and Labour do not make up the numbers, a clear situation must be in place after the election for discussions to take place with others, Mr Dukes said.

“The message out of that for Fine Gael is look, whatever you do, don’t create a situation that leaves so much fluidity after the election, that there’s a danger that there would be great difficulty in pulling a government together.”

Mr Dukes, while saying it was “stupid” before polling day to open talks with others outside of the coalition, he singled out who was best to support a Government.

“I reckon Shane Ross will get re-elected,” he said. “I think the three Social Democrats will get re-elected. I don’t think Renua has any chance of getting more than two or three seats.

“A lot of those people will be somewhat shaken after the election and they’ll be in a different frame of mind from what they are now.”

Asked what type of coalition could be then formed, he said: “That will depend on what kind of agreement you make with them. And that’s going to be largely affected by how they’re feeling after the election.

Commenting on Mr Kenny’s recent gaffe that people did not understand fiscal “jargon”, he said Mr Kenny needed to stay on message about the economy.

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