When you're explaining, you're losing

It is often said that when you are explaining, you’re losing.

When you're explaining, you're losing

by Daniel McConnell, Irish Examiner Political Editor

It is often said that when you are explaining, you’re losing.

Fine Gael and Michael Noonan were having to do an awful lot of explaining today on his “fiscal space” plans.

In plain English, this means the extra money the Government estimates to have each year to spend between now and 2021.

Both at the party’s launch of its Long Term Economic Plan and on radio later in the day, Noonan accepted it was complicated but argued that his figures were actually sound, rather than drawn up on the back of a cigarette packet.

Fine Gael, which is most likely to lead the next Government, have not had a good start to the campaign.

Not only have they mangled their economic message and thereby undermining their competency in managing the country’s finances, they were to suffer a poll set back.

The Irish Times poll saw Fine Gael’s rating drop two points to 28% and with Labour becalmed and unmoved at 7%, meaning the Coalition is a long way short of re-election.

Also, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was forced to counter accusations of hiding from the media and snubbing a major interview on RTE Six One.

Kenny said he was not aware of an invitation to appear on RTE News last night, and denied he has been in hiding.

Speaking on the campaign trail in Mullingar, Mr Kenny said: “I didn’t know I was invited to it, obviously I haven’t access to all of the diaries here, I have a lot of interviews to do over the next period and I will participate in the debates that take place, why wouldn’t I".

He said he was "sorry RTE were upset" about his non-appearance. "You will see enough of me, maybe too much over the next couple of weeks, believe me," he said.

But Fianna Fail were having none of it.

The party accused Mr Kenny and Fine Gael have been accused of acting like the Government in North Korea by strictly limiting the questions allowed to be put to the Taoiseach at his first press conference of the General Election campaign.

The lead opposition party described the move by senior Fine Gael figures as a “sad state of affairs”

Michael McGrath, the Cork South Central TD and party finance spokesman accused Mr Kenny of “ducking and diving” and of sending Health Minister Leo Varadkar out to do his “dirty work” on the ‘Six One’ News.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when the Taoiseach of the day conducts his first press conference with a limit of two questions to be put from the floor,” Mr McGrath said.

“This isn’t North Korea, this is a democratic State and you as members of the media are entitled to put as many questions as you want as far as I'm concerned to all of the political leaders going before the country in this election,” he told reporters at a press event in Dublin.

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald pipped McGrath to the quip of the day when she accused Noonan and the Government of the “fastest fiscal flip flop in history”.

But her and her party had to battle questions again about links with Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy and she appeared to distance herself from the earlier description of him being a “good republican”.

If it was bad for Enda and Michael, things weren’t much better for Tánaiste Joan Burton and Labour.

Out on the stump in Louth with “SuperGed”, sorry I mean Super Junior Minister Ged Nash, the leader was to feel the heat from a most unhappy Mary Moran, the party’s second candidate in the constituency.

Having to share a stage with Joan and Ged, who both like to talk a lot, Moran felt edged out and vented her fury to my colleague Fiachra O Cionnaith about not wanting to be just “a token candidate”.

Earlier, Burton’s “obedient employee” come deputy leader, Alan “Power is a Drug” Kelly allowed himself to get embroiled in a heated and frankly bizarre spat on air with Mattie McGrath.

Elsewhere, Eamon Ryan and his merry Green army launched their bid to win promotion back to the big league having been relegated in 2011.

Wiped out entirely from the Dáil after a disastrous term in office with Fianna Fail, Ryan has battled bravely to try and remain relevant and lobbed in a few grenades on the Government, accusing them of repeating the same mistakes of the past.

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