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Campaign Trail

By: 
Jamie Smyth - Irish Times

Fianna Fáil takes a pasting from US publications 

The US media can’t seem to get enough of our economic problems or the looming general election.

Fresh from Michael Lewis’s 13,000-word forensic examination of Ireland’s boom to bust in Vanity Fair , the New York Times penned a strongly worded editorial on Friday savaging Fianna Fáil’s management of the economy and urging a new government to renegotiate its debts with the EU.

“Voters rightly blame Fianna Fáil for the reckless policies of recent years, when the ‘Celtic Tiger’ investment boom gave way to a speculative housing bubble fed by lax regulation and cozy ties between bankers and politicians.”

“When that bubble burst in 2008, Fianna Fáil pledged more than the government could afford to rescue its banker friends. The bankers emerged nearly whole. Ireland emerged nearly broken,” said an editorial by the newspaper.

But the New York Times didn’t stop there. It went on to lambast the EU for imposing austerity conditions so strict that they leave Ireland with little chance of paying off its debt. And to the horror of all Fianna Fáil subscribers to the influential US paper, it gave a ringing endorsement to a future Fine Gael/ Labour Government.

“Irish opposition parties want to revisit the bailout terms. The Fine Gael party, on the centre-right, wants to negotiate down the 6 per cent interest rate. The Labour Party, its usual centre-left ally, wants time to phase in spending cuts and tax increases. Those positions make economic sense,” said the paper.

Quote of the day: Trevor Sargent

" In the case of Fine Gael, the Galway tent has been replaced by the Castlebar campsite and there is no shortage of corporate donations when it comes to larger political parties

Green TD Trevor Sargent, who is a candidate in the Dublin North constituency, speaking at the party's launch of its plan to ban corporate donations to political parties
 
Weathering the political storm made easy in poster-free haven 

The gale-force winds sweeping the country are causing havoc in towns and villages across the country with pedestrians forced to dodge fast-flying election posters, which have been ripped from lampposts by the stormy weather.

Not so in the village of Newmarket on Fergus in Co Clare, where a 12-year-old prohibition on election posters has created an atmosphere of electoral calm rarely seen in other places.

“It was decided that election posters in around Newmarket on Fergus and on the approach roads to the village looked very tacky,” says the environmental services manager Brendan McInerney of community group Obair, which organised the initiative with the local tidy towns committee.

“If candidates erect posters inside the boundary we have set, we contact them and ask them to remove them or we take them down and put them into storage so that the candidates can collect them. We don’t destroy them because we know they cost money to make but we do remove them.”

McInerney admits that the local poster ban has no legal standing but says it has been very successful.

If the country suffers another weekend of windy weather like the last one, health and safety officials may float the idea of poster bans in other areas. In the meantime, those seeking a moment of calm from the political storm can seek solace in Newmarket on Fergus.

Policy Proposal of the Day: Transforming the state’s “ghost estates’’
 

There wouldn't be ghost estates any more if there were tourists staying in them.

Independent general election candidate Luke "Ming" Flanagan, who is contesting Roscommon-South Leitrim
 
Independent aims to land rivals in the soup 

Independent candidate Ann Sweeney launched her election campaign for the Donegal South West constituency with a cup of tea and a “tiger soup” party yesterday.
The 53-year old hotelier from Dunfanaghy, who has designed her own unique brand of election poster, delivered a scathing condemnation of the main party politicians to reporters at the launch.

“After 15 years of gorging themselves with the Celtic Tiger, Fianna Fáil, the Greens, Fine Gael and Labour have left us nothing but the bones.

“What can you do with bones? Make tiger soup to give politicians from any of those parties a jolly good scalding if they have the cheek to come to your door,” she said.

Ms Sweeney, who pulled out of the Donegal South West byelection at the 11th hour last November, says she believes there is enough oil and gas off the Irish coast to get the economy back in the black.

“There’s about €600 billion of it there in the lifetime of the Corrib field and Bertie Ahern signed it over to Norway, Shell, Statoil and a Canadian conglomerate on a 25-year retrospective tax break.”

“Norway now has a universal healthcare service on those profits and we can’t even get a doctor unless you pay through some insurance company,” she said.

Strong words from a candidate, who has the small print “B....x to the bailout” embossed on one of her campaign posters.

Words from the leaders . . . 

“I accept where you are coming from in the sense that you are angry and so on and you have your own perspective on it and the only way we can sort out this country is to get involved and change the system and make it work better for the people.

- Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin 

“There are two Irelands . . . There is the Ireland of the elites and the mohair suits and the Galway tent and all that came out of Taca, and there is the other Ireland - which is of the people who care, and are decent and fair.

- Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at the launch of the party’s election campaign 

“TV3 . . . jumped the gun somewhat here by saying we want a debate on Tuesday, now you comply, so for that reason that’s not fitting into my schedule.”

- Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny told

 Newstalk

radio yesterday why he is not available to take part in a three-way leader debate on TV3 on Tuesday night.