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Joan Burton says Alan Kelly is 'an incredibly obedient employee'

Meanwhile, Gerry Adams says that 15 seats would be a good election for Sinn Féin.

Updated 3.45pm 

1051 Joan Burton Source: Sam Boal

LABOUR’S DEPUTY LEADER Alan Kelly has said that Joan Burton is “absolutely” his boss after suggesting last weekend that he is his own boss.

While the Tánaiste has described Kelly as an “incredibly obedient employee” as the general campaign got underway this afternoon.

Kelly appeared alongside Burton at Labour’s election headquarters after earlier signing the polling order to set the election date for Friday, 26 February.

Last weekend, in an interview with the Sunday Independent, Kelly suggested he was his own boss.

This later prompted Burton to insist that, as Labour leader she is, in fact, the Environment Minister’s boss. Speaking today, Kelly acknowledged as much, insisting:

Joan is definitely the boss of the Labour party, trust me.

But asked today if Burton was the boss of him, Kelly insisted: “Oh yeah, of course.” Burton was also in no doubt and praised her cabinet colleague, telling reporters:

To be honest, I must say, he’s an incredibly obedient employee.

She later clarified that he was also her colleague.

Fine Gael’s one question 

Meanwhile, Enda Kenny launched Fine Gael’s election campaign by saying there is only one question facing the electorate:

The question people will have to answer is do they want to keep the recovery going?

As the party’s ministers, TDs, and election candidates gathered in Dublin, Kenny said Fine Gael had a long-term economic plan, which has been independently costed and will be launched tomorrow.

He said the recovery had to be “lived and felt by people” and pledged that there would be “no more boom and bust, no more reckless waste of taxpayers’ money and staggering from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis” if his party is re-elected.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said that the fiscal space available to the next government is there because of the policies of the outgoing coalition.

But he warned that if the opposition change them it will change the amount of money available.

“If they change the policies they will not get the resources,” he said, claiming Sinn Féin’s policies will “destroy the economy”.

Sinn Féin on Merrion Street

Earlier today, Gerry Adams claimed 15 Dáil seats – one more than Sinn Féin currently has – would represent a good election for the party.

Adams said the dissolution of the Dáil was the best decision Enda Kenny has made in the last five years, telling reporters:

I have to say, his decision to call this election is probably the best decision he’s made as a Taoiseach and that the election day is essentially the people’s day.

Asked how many seats the party is hoping to win, Adams said he didn’t know, but said “more than 14″, adding that 15 would “absolutely” be a good election for Sinn Féin.

“Anything on top of that is even better,” he said.

Adams said Sinn Féin is offering an alternative to voters to the current government with the promise of building thousands of social houses and setting up a universal healthcare system.

CaSRlFJWAAA7kIc.jpg-large Sinn Féin outside Government Buildings on day one of the campaign

On whether he is confident he will be in government buildings when the Dáil resumes on 10 March, Adams said he would serve as Taoiseach if the people wish.

That’s the interesting thing about elections, nobody knows. Of course I would like to serve the people in whatever capacity and, if that’s their wish, I will come forward and serve them in the capacity of Taoiseach, if that is their wish.

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Asked if he would serve a full five-year term if re-elected as a TD for Louth, Adams questioned whether the next Dáil would last five years.

He also declined to answer questions about Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy and allegations broadcast about the prominent republican on BBC’s Spotlight programme.

“He isn’t, to my knowledge, standing in the election,” Adams said.

Fianna Fáil-led recovery 

At Fianna Fáil’s election campaign launch, the party’s leader Micheál Martin was quick to point out that it was policy devised by his party after the crash that helped steer the country towards its recovery.

9977 Micheal Martin Source: Sam Boal

“This government didn’t create that recovery,” Martin said, after being asked if things had improved.

The key measures were taken by the previous government in terms of closing the deficit and terms of stabilising the banking situation. And now they are subsequently claiming credit for it. They are claiming credit for measures that they opposed.

On his vision for the country, Martin said:

I and my party reject the idea that we must choose between a strong recovery, and a decent society. We can and must have both.

The Fianna Fáil leader also said that he expects his party will be “surprisingly competitive” in seats around the country they may not be expected to do well in.

The party’s election manifesto is set to be published in the next week.

- additional reporting from Michael Sheils McNamee 

Read: Politicians were breaking the law all over Ireland last night

It’s on: The general election will be held on 26 February

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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