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Enda Kenny isn't thinking about anyone else but Joan Burton

To go into government with after the election, that is.

Joan Burton and Enda Kenny
Joan Burton and Enda Kenny
Image: Sam Boal

ENDA KENNY HAS refused to be drawn into the speculation around possible coalition options after the next election, insisting he is only focussed on getting the Fine Gael-Labour government re-elected.

The Taoiseach has said that he has not contemplated anything outside of the re-election of the current government, despite polls showing that the coalition would need the support of others to form a government after the election.

When specifically asked, he did not rule out the possibility of the two parties going into opposition together.

“I’ve always said that my focus is on the re-election of the Fine Gael-Labour government and I haven’t contemplated anything outside that,” Kenny told reporters at a pre-Christmas briefing earlier this month.

Clearly, the result given by the people in 2011 provided stability and the opportunity to make decisions which were very difficult but which, because of the people rising to the challenge – and they deserve all the credit – the country’s in a very different position now.

Asked if he could rule out going into government with any other parties, Kenny said he was “not going there”, insisting: “I’ve set my stall on Fine Gael and Labour and I put my trust in the people and [we’ll] make our case.”

Kenny was also asked if there were any independents, including controversial former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry, who he would not do business with.

11/7/2013 Abortion Legislation Voting Takes Place Michael Lowry Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

But the Taoiseach refused to be drawn on the matter:

Let me repeat again, it’s Fine Gael and Labour for me, and I am not going beyond that. The result of the election will be the people’s verdict and we’ll wait and see what that is.

When asked if the two parties could go into opposition together, Kenny did not specifically rule out the possibility.

He described the upcoming election as the most important in 50 years, saying: “When people begin to reflect on what’s at stake here, this actually will be the most important question to be asked of the last 50 years.

“This country was driven over a cliff between 2008 and 2011. It’s taken a long road and a great deal of distress and difficulty for so many people to get it back on the highway. It’s very easy to drive your new found vehicle off the road again. We’ve no intention of doing that.

“So for the people who are going to vote, the question that they must ask themselves is:

‘Who is best-placed to keep this recovery moving? Who has the best opportunity for me, as a citizen, to be able to have a job, for my family to have a job, to have the opportunity to live a life in this country here.’

16/12/2015. Taoiseach Carol Singing. Pictured (LTO Joan Burton and Enda Kenny Source: Sam Boal

Kenny also confirmed that politicians will return to work in the new year, ending speculation of an early election in late January or early February.

The first cabinet meeting of 2016 will take place on 5 January with the Dáil resuming on 13 January and “a busy agenda up ahead”.

The Fine Gael leader said he would circulate draft legislation to give extra powers to the Cregan inquiry into the IBRC loans controversy to opposition leaders and said the government is committed to providing the inquiry with the resources it needs.

He said the government will also respond to reports from the Constitutional Convention on increasing women’s participation in politics, removing blasphemy from the Constitution and political reform in early 2016.

Kenny also restated his commitment to have a 50-50 split between men and women in the next cabinet if the government is re-elected.

He added: “About 40 per cent of appointments to different boards now are female which is great and obviously, I have said on many occasions that would be an intention of mine.”

Read: Will Enda keep his promise to women?

WATCH: Huge Dáil shouting match on TDs’ last day before Christmas

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