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Enda Kenny rules out deals with independent TDs to secure power

Published 05/02/2016

The Taoiseach said his preferred outcome was the return of a Fine Gael-Labour coalition
The Taoiseach said his preferred outcome was the return of a Fine Gael-Labour coalition

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out a deal with any independent TDs in order to secure power.

Singling out Michael Lowry, who was found by the Moriarty tribunal to have helped businessman Denis O'Brien secure a mobile phone licence in 1995, Mr Kenny said his aim was to return the outgoing coalition.

"I will not have any dealings with Michael Lowry, or any other independents," the Taoiseach said.

The question of Mr Lowry being a powerbroker in a potential Fine Gael-led coalition has been left unanswered by the Taoiseach since it was raised at his party's Ard fheis last month.

Mr Kenny told RTE Radio: "My proposition is the return of the Fine Gael-Labour government."

He said any deal would be fully transparent.

Tanaiste Joan Burton said a Labour Party returned to government would exceed debt reduction targets to free up investment in essential services that families and communities need.

"Over the next five years, our mission is to sustain and spread the recovery and create an economy and a society that works for working people.

"A recovery that increases their living standards through sustained wage increases, targeted and responsible tax reductions and investment in the services families and communities need.

"We will use our economic strength and stability to continue to build a decent society."

Meanwhile, Fine Gael launched its jobs plan with a target of 200,000 jobs to be created by 2020.

Richard Bruton, Jobs Minister, said the outgoing coalition had created 136,000 jobs, well ahead of the 100,000 target for the end of 2016.

The plan entails attracting 70,000 emigrants back to Ireland to work and offering 50,000 apprenticeships, which would help hit a target of less than 7% unemployment.

Fine Gael also aims to spend 42 billion euro on infrastructure projects and reduce the tax burden on self-employed workers while protecting low corporation tax rates. A tax deal with Apple is the subject of a European Commission investigation.

The second full day of campaigning saw Fianna Fail focus on the housing crisis.

Barry Cowen, party spokesman on the environment, said waiting lists for homes in the councils was a damning indictment of the outgoing government, with 140,000 families in need.

Fianna Fail promised to build 150,000 new homes by 2021, including 45,000 new social housing units.

It also vowed to set up a first-time buyers savings scheme, to raise rent supplements available through welfare and to create a government department solely responsible for housing, planning and the councils.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams claimed his rivals' election manifestos were based on a lie.

"They have tried to buy the election with election promises. Their sums don't add up. They have been caught cooking the books. Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail should withdraw their manifestos. They are based on a lie."

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