By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Reporter
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said he does not want to see a mooted Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition after the election because "you'd be handing the country over to a Sinn Féin-led government second time out".
The senior cabinet member made the claim in a wide-ranging Limerick Leader interview in which he also strongly suggested the coming Dáil will be his last term as a TD.
"You'd be handing the country over to a Sinn Féin-led government, second time out. You're teeing up a different model to what we've had since 1922," he said when asked about a potential Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition.
"I won't be around for that one, obviously. But you're teeing up a left-right model and I think Sinn Féin don't pass the economic literacy test.
"Their experience in Northern Ireland is helping to run a public service and social welfare economy. I don't think they have any idea how to run a private sector economy," he said.
According to the latest Red C opinion poll, Fine Gael (32%) and Fianna Fáil (17%) currently have the support of 49% of all voters who have made up their minds, with Labour (9%), Sinn Féin (19%) and Independents (23%) sharing the remainder of the electorate.