Voters of Wexford should think carefully - Taoiseach
Published 20/02/2016 | 00:00
taoiseach Enda Kenny said the people of Wexford should vote for Fine Gael and Labour in the February 26 election if they want to sustain the economic recovery.
Speaking to journalists at the Talbot Hotel, in Wexford, the Taoiseach warned that the unacceptable alternative was creeping tax rises, higher unemployment and unstable government.
'So, it's the people's choice.. the people are the masters here, that's their decision and they should think very carefully what they want,' said Mr Kenny, 'it's a question for the people of Wexford, do they want this (the recovery) to continue or do they want to go in a different direction.'
During a brief Press conference, ahead of a get-together with the party faithful, many of them members of the farming community - the bedrock of Fine Gael support in the county - Mr Kenny stressed that with Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein 'rearing their heads, people have to be doubly careful'.
And no doubt inspired by the expanse of tweeds, corduroy and brogues waiting patiently in the coffee lounge for his words of wisdom, Mr Kenny drew a farming analogy of a crop being sown and then being harvested too soon. The economy was like that, he said, it wouldn't make sense to reap it before time and it still needed careful nurturing and what more capable pair of hands was there than his.
Flanked by his three Wexford candidates, Deputy Paul Kehoe, Senator Michael D'Arcy and newcomer Julie Hogan, the Taoiseach again dismissed any talk of a coalition government with Fianna Fail in the event that Labour failed to make the cut at the elections.
'I rule that out,' he said, when asked directly whether Fine Gael would ever consider sharing a coalition bed with Fianna Fail.
With a tightly orchestrated visit to Wexford, Mr Kenny denied that his trip was very controlled or that no walkbouts were planned, although his official itinery allowed only five to 10 minutes for visits to Minister Paul Kehoe's office in Enniscorthy and to Senator Michael D'Arcy's office in Gorey yesterday (Tuesday), before he travelled on to Wicklow and Bray.
'In the next 20 days I'm going to meet thousands of people,' he said.
Talking up the economy and the way forward, Mr Kenny said that job creation was vital and with the demise of the building and construction industries as a result of the recession places like Wexford had moved away from their traditional reliance on that sector, with more and more jobs being created due to exports and the expansion in the numbers of high-value employers.
'The more people we have working, the less the burden of taxation,' he said, stressing the need for an upwardly mobile, well-educated workforce, able to take advantage of the jobs that will be created in the county in the future.
'A talent pool, that's what Wexford needs, that's what the country needs. We need to have young people capable of meeting demand.'
Mr Kenny listed a number of key projects the current government was responsible for in County Wexford, including new schools and the Enniscorthy and New Ross bypasses, the millions invested in tourism, all clear indicators, he said, of stable government, and repeated his desire to see the end of the hated USC.
Asked about the lack of mental health services in Wexford, he defended the government's record and said government spending had been ring-fenced to protect the most vulnerable in society. And more services, he said, were becoming available to serve people who had challenges in mental health.
Mr Kenny said he was enthused by the numbers of young people who turned out to vote in the sex equality referendum and hoped this meant more becoming involved in the general election voting.
'Young people,' he said, 'have the chance to make a difference.'
Earlier in the evening it had been feared that the Fine Gael gathering would be targeted by protesters.
But Independent Paul O'Hanlon was the only man marching up and down outside the Talbot, beyond the fringe of uniformed gardai and detectives.
'I just didn't want him to think he was going to get a free ride in Wexford,' said Mr O'Hanlon, who left his vigil after an hour or so.
A couple of water protesters wandered through the lobby, but the Taoiseach was nowhere to be found and was instead pressing the flesh with those with whom he had shared interests, rather than confronting those who would see him deposed.