FIANNA FÁIL HAS unveiled a new general election ad which takes aim at Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s infamous promise to “end the scandal of patients on trolleys”.
The ad was unveiled by party leader Micheál Martin outside Leinster House this morning.
It depicts Kenny promising that he WON’T end the trolley crisis and will instead prioritise tax cuts for the wealthiest.
The ad is mock-up of a Fine Gael ad from the 2007 general election campaign that has repeatedly been raised by opposition politicians since Kenny took office five years ago.
Martin denied the ad amounted to negative campaigning.
“Highlighting policy issues is not a negative campaign, negative campaigning is about targeting individuals.
The purpose of this message is to illustrate I think the fundamental problem with the Fine Gael approach and the consistency in the degree to which they break promises and they broke a fundamental promise in relation to the health service that they made five years ago when they said they would end the two-tier health service … We’ve ended up with a two-tier health service that it far worse than it was five years ago.
When asked if he thought the billboard was like a free ad for Fine Gael as people may not take in all the written content if they pass by in a rush, Martin said he believed people would get the message.
Fine Gael hit back at the ad. A spokesperson said:
Fianna Fáil wasted four-and-a-half years in opposition and failed to come up with any alternative policies. So now as we approach the election they have no plan, nothing to say, and are forced to resort to cynical populism to cover up the fact they have nothing to put before the people.
They added that Fine Gael has a long-term plan to create jobs and invest in key public services, and the country cannot ”go back to the same old Fianna Fáil who wrecked the economy”.
I would have thought that Fianna Fáil would be keen to promote their own brand and leader. Perhaps they realise that a lot of people still associate the Fianna Fáil brand and Micheál Martin with economic devastation, fearing that he and Fianna Fáil would wreck the recovery.
Martin, a former health minister, said consistent underfunding and “government ineptitude and incompetence” has led to record waiting lists and record numbers of people on trolleys.
He said if Fine Gael introduces US-style tax rates there will be a “decimation of public services”.
Martin said the fact that there is a €100 million shortfall in funding for the acute hospital system as we start the year, bigger problems and waiting lists will be evident in 2016.
He also criticised the coalition for scrapping the Dutch-style model of Universal Health Care, saying the plan “just fell apart over the last five years”.
Gerry Adams agrees
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that both of the statements in the Fianna Fáil ad are true.
He said Kenny’s promise to end the scandal of people waiting on trolleys was very well publicised before the last election, but the situation has got worse since he came to power.
“He has refused recently to repeat that commitment. He also has promised to reward the highest earners … There is a recovery under way but it is not a recovery that is fair.”
Adams said the highest numbers of people on trolleys in the history of the state happened on Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s watch.
He accused Fine Gael of and Fianna Fáil of holding the view that “election promises only last as long as the election”.
- with reporting from Hugh O’Connell
Originally published 11.44am