15 Jan 2020 | 12.44 pm
‘Disorderly Brexit’ In Store If Fianna Fáil Returned
Fine Gael comes out swinging
15 Jan 2020 | 12.44 pm
Fine Gael has come out swinging on the first full day of the election campaign, with at least two attacks so far on Fianna Fáil, including a charge by the minister for European affairs that the party is recklessly in favour of a “disorderly Brexit”.
The somewhat overheated remarks by Helen McEntee came in the wake of the announcement by Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher that he plans to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement when it reaches the European Parliament.
McEntee said: “With just 16 days until the UK leaves the EU, Billy Kelleher has stated that he will vote against the Brexit agreement and, thus, in favour of a no-deal crash-out that could see a border on the island of Ireland.
“This is somewhat bewildering. Billy Kelleher recently ran in the European elections for Fianna Fáil and now seems to be running from his own party’s alleged steadfast position as to ensuring that we avoid a no-deal Brexit.”
Ahead of his party’s official campaign launch today, Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin said that Fine Gael’s election slogan ‘A future to look forward to’ would send “a certain sort of shiver” around the country.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael’s Peter Burke (pictured), who represents Longford/Westmeath, attacked Fianna Fáil TDs for “attempting to rewrite history” and distance their party from responsibility for the financial crash of the Noughties.
Burke said: “Yesterday Deputy Lisa Chambers accused Fine Gael of running a ‘nasty’ campaign simply because we have called her party out for having no concrete policies. And today we heard Deputy Jim O’Callaghan issue the extraordinary clam that his party is responsible for putting in place a national recovery programme.
“It was Fine Gael, on behalf of the Irish public, who led this recovery. Fianna Fáil’s younger crop of deputies, who harbour ministerial ambitions, are simply exonerating themselves from their party’s legacy – which was to wreck the country and saddle a generation with massive personal debt.”
Underlining the governing party’s electoral focus on its Brexit record, Burke continued: “When you look at Fine Gael’s economic record, our top team have carefully but successfully steered this country through the first phase of the Brexit negotiations.
“We are halfway there and are one nil up. Can you really trust reckless Fianna Fáil with the next phase of the Brexit negotiations given their track record with managing the economy?”
Minister McEntee went right for the jugular on the same issue, declaring “The next stage of Brexit has to be negotiated and agreed by the end of 2020. It will be interesting to hear from leadership within Fianna Fáil as to exactly what the people of Ireland can expect from them in relation to Brexit.
“This ‘red flag’ from a senior MEP is yet another example of a Fianna Fáil party with no coherent plans for the country and who can’t be trusted to be in charge of the next stage of the Brexit negotiations. We need consistency and order. What Billy Kelleher is proposing will only create disorder. It seems quite clear that this disorderly Fianna Fáil are in favour of a disorderly Brexit.”
The Fianna Fáil leader focused on what he called the “uncertain future” that Fine Gael had created for the Irish people, saying it was nothing to look forward to. A Fine Gael future, he said, “reveals the essence of this Fine Gael party”.
Martin explained: “Everything is a way into the future. But people in an emergency department today can’t wait for Fine Gael’s future. Fine Gael have made the future of many people in this country very difficult and uncertain, particularly in terms of high rents and in terms of the number of children homeless.
“Fine Gael have created an uncertain future for many people in this country. I am not so sure that Fine Gael’s version of the future is something that the Irish people would necessarily look forward to.”