Fianna Fáil: ‘We acknowledge the mistakes we’ve made’

Fianna Fáil’s giveaway manifesto, which was launched yesterday, is aimed at offering an alternative, according to party leader Micheál Martin.

Fianna Fáil: ‘We acknowledge the mistakes we’ve made’

He argued, with some passion, that the widely held belief that Fine Gael will lead the next government and that Enda Kenny will be taoiseach again is wrong.

He said he is a credible alternative, even if he sat at the cabinet table for the 14 years of Ireland’s boom and bust.

“We made mistakes, we have acknowledged those mistakes,” said a humble Martin.

The one thing he wouldn’t rule out during the launch in Dublin’s Wood Quay was doing a deal of some sort with Fine Gael after the election.

At least six opportunities were afforded to Martin to categorically rule out such an arrangement, but he managed not to.

This has become significant as a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition is the only viable option in terms of achieving an overall majority. It suits Martin to keep the issue alive as it makes his party relevant in terms of the formation of government.

The other controversial matter from the launch was Martin saying that if he does lead the party into government, then former ministers like Mary Hanafin and Willie O’Dea would be considered for ministerial office the same as everyone else.

Away from Fianna Fáil, the fallout of the double gangland murders in Dublin continued to dominate the agenda, when it emerged that journalists in the Independent group of newspapers have had their lives threatened.

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Within an hour of the news emerging, a plethora of statements were released from political leaders condemning the threats.

While such swift reaction from the leaders was welcome, they are clearly driven by the fact we are in the midst of a general election.

The whole saga seemed to get the better of Renua Ireland leader Lucinda Creighton, who said the threats represented a “national emergency” and that the outgoing coalition parties should suspend their election campaigns to address the threat.

“The Government need to suspend their campaign and urgently meet to agree a total and absolute Garda response to the gangland crisis,” said Creighton.

“The minister providing €5m to buy more guns and ammunition for the gardaí will do nothing to restoring order to our streets.”

Such daft comments give a sense of desperation from Creighton, whose party is fighting to remain relevant in the battle of ideas.

In a spectacularly dull campaign, the audacious entry of Danny Healy-Rae to the race is a welcome source of light relief.

Just a whisker inside the noon deadline yesterday, Danny arrived in the county registrar’s office in Tralee to declare himself a candidate in Kerry alongside his brother, Michael.

A “joint decision” between the brothers was reached for them both to run.

His entry to the race is a game-changer, and the spectre of two Healy-Raes in the Dáil is enough to give the likes of Arthur Spring and Brendan Griffin nightmares.

With nominations now closed, a total number of 551 candidates will contest the election.

Based on the forms submitted to returning officers across the country, Fine Gael has 88 candidates, 27 of whom are female.

Labour is only running 36 candidates, 13 female.

Fianna Fáil is running 71 candidates, 22 female.

Sinn Féin is running 50 candidates, 18 female.

A total of 306 candidates, from independents and others, are in the contest.

There are 160 independent candidates in the field.

Within that there are 14 for the Social Democrats and 31 for Anti Austerity Alliance/ People Before Profit. The Green Party has 40 candidates and Renua has 26.

Game on.

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