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Coveney says the word change has been 'ambushed' and accuses Sinn Féin of 'con job'

Senior Fine Gael ministers went on the attack today as recent polls show them in 3rd place.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney
Tánaiste Simon Coveney
Image: RollingNews.ie

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY today said he was making a “direct appeal” to the Irish electorate to consider how the country “has built something hugely valuable” in the last nine years.

In a scathing attack on Sinn Féin, he said that party would go wild on the country’s credit card and create bills that would come due in the next few years.

With only a few days to go until voters cast their vote in this Saturday’s general election, senior Fine Gael ministers Coveney and Paschal Donohoe appealed to voters and went on the attack against Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil at a press conference this morning.

Opinion polls over the past few weeks have pointed to Fine Gael’s falling support and a Sinn Féin surge, culminating in last night’s Ipsos/MRBI poll for the Irish Times featuring Sinn Féin on top and Mary Lou McDonald the most popular leader.

Both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil have campaigned for change and Coveney said today that the word had been “ambushed and abused” and that voters are being promised the kind of change that would cripple the economy.

“It’s not the kind of change you can trust,” he said, adding the accusation that Sinn Féin’s plans were a “con job” that were “built on sand”. 

The Tánaiste added that this election “will come down to trust” and that his party was the only one that could be trusted over Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil. 

When asked if his party is in meltdown, Coveney said the election is “all to play for”, with Donohoe stating that his party will be out campaigning until midnight on Saturday night. 

Coveney admitted that the Brexit message Fine Gael has been pushing has not resonated with the public, stating that people are “punch drunk” of Brexit. However, he said the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put the UK on a collision course with the EU. 

“So when you come to vote, ask yourself this question – who do you trust with keeping Ireland safe and protecting our strong economy as we face very real risks at home and abroad?

“Do you trust the party who crashed our economy but now claims to be reborn?

“Do you trust the parties who make blatantly irresponsible spending promises on the back of massive tax hikes to win votes, but will wreck the economy again?

“Or do you trust the party that has protected Ireland through Brexit, returned us to full employment and has worked with the Irish people to bring about real change, with a commitment to listen and do so much more?” he said. 

When asked why the party did not throw the kitchen sink at the housing crisis in their manifesto, instead opting to continue with its Rebuilding Ireland plan, Coveney said:

“We are building on what we know works.”

He said other parties are pretending a rent freeze can be brought in overnight and that it won’t have knock-on consequences. He said Fine Gael knows there is more to do.

“We are moving in the right direction,” he said. Coveney was also asked about the future of Varadkar’s leadership of the party.

“There’s no question mark over Leo Varadkar’s leadership and we intend on turning things around over the coming days,” he said.

Fine Gael now occupy third place in the race, according to recent opinion polls.

The leaders of all three parties – Leo Varadkar, Micheál Martin and Mary Lou McDonald – are to clash in a live televised debate on RTÉ One this evening.

With reporting from Christina Finn

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Sean Murray

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