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Enda Kenny went on Newstalk and Pat Kenny asked him about literally everything

The Taoiseach went around the houses with the broadcaster this morning.

ENDA KENNY GAVE a rare one-on-one interview to Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning and it’s fair to say they covered a lot of ground.

The Taoiseach was in the Newstalk studios to talk about matters of the day as well as questions about the future ahead of the expected general election in just over a year.

We counted at least 12 topics that were covered. Here’s some of what Enda had to say…

On Michelle Mulherin… 

Kenny shares a constituency with Mulherin, whose office was the subject of a suspected arson attack last night. Kenny said he was “appalled” by what had happened and added that there was no case for “firebombing the constituency office of any deputy”.

On Michael D Higgins… 

Kenny said that the abuse of the President as he left an event in Finglas last week was disgraceful.

“I can’t lay blame on any party here but this kind of carry-on has to deplored,” he said.

He also had a sly dig at Socialist TD Paul Murphy’s comments about the incident, saying there were “not in keeping with democracy”.

On Aer Lingus 

Kenny said he couldn’t comment, but added:

On the new mortgage rules 

Despite the Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan broadly appearing to get his way on new lending rules, Kenny said that they “strike the right balance”.

“I never again want to see a situation where young couples are led down the road of walking into the trap of negative equity,” he said.

On insolvency practitioners… 

Kenny claimed that banks are in some cases not engaging with insolvency practitioners, some of whom he plans to meet today.

He said that people needed to engage with banks otherwise issues would “not be sorted out”.

On getting back the money we ploughed into the banks… 

The Taoiseach stuck to the usual line here about hoping to get back the money from the likes of AIB, while not definitely ruling out retroactive recapitalisation from Europe – although not exactly talking it up either. He did note that the money that went into Anglo Irish is “dead money”.

On Greece 

Kenny thinks that a debt write down or write-off would be “very difficult” for Greece to achieve but said the best approach was for the new government to engage with the European Council.

He said that “the theory” was that the €350m that Ireland lent to Greece as part of its bailout programme would be paid back by the country.

On USC and tax cuts 

Kenny wants to have 500,000 people taken out of Universal Social Charge in the next Budget. A few times he referred to speaking to people who’d lauded the tax changes in the last budget.

“Somebody said to me this morning they get back €35 ever fortnight, which is a great boost to them,” he told Kenny.

On Michael Noonan 

He’s “a realist”, according to Kenny. Good to know.

On the IMF

The Taoiseach agreed “absolutely” with Kenny’s assertion that the International Monetary Fund, which published its latest assessment yesterday, should “butt out”.

On same-sex marriage referendum 

Kenny said he intends to campaign strongly for the passage of May’s referendum and said all the issues related to children would be resolved in the forthcoming Children and Family Relationships Bill.

He said: “If two people love each other, that’s the issue, it’s about equality, dignity and respect.”

On Leo Varadkar coming out 

Kenny said he “had a sense” that Varadkar was gay and said that it was “great” that he and party colleague Jerry Buttimer could be open and public about their sexuality.

“They’re free and easy to do so,” he added.

On jobs 

Kenny said that the creation of more of them is “the way to excitement”. Exciting.

On Fianna Fáil

The Taoiseach firmly ruled out coalition with the main opposition party, for now anyway. He said he saw “no circumstances” in which it “should be returned to government” before launching into his usual critique of them for having “wrecked the country”.

On the government’s popularity 

Kenny was fairly confident that as the year progresses that people would focus on “what is happening here”.

“I think the government will pick up support as it goes through year because the people will see the benefits of sacrifices made.”

Read: Now Micheál Martin wants a live TV debate with Enda Kenny

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Hugh O'Connell

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