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Love and kisses for Noonan who likens Fianna Fáil to 'Comical Ali as the tanks roll in'

Michael Noonan got two standing ovations from party members.

Updated 1.30 pm

FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL Noonan got two standing ovations from party members as he outlined his party’s pre-election pitch.

Noonan made a number of pledges before the country goes to the polls including promises to the elderly, like increases the State pension and the Living Alone Allowance.

Speaking on the second day of the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Citywest, the Limerick City deputy also promised that the government would abolish USC and double housing construction if it’s returned for another term.

Despite lauding the government’s time in power, Noonan acknowledged that the recovery hadn’t yet reached every part of the country.

It is not yet inside the door of every home in the country, but with proper prudent and stable policies we can keep the recovery going and derive great benefit over the next five years.

leo Varadkar speaks during the morning session of the second day of the Fine Gael Ard Fheis. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Earlier, health minister Varadkar labelled Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil as a “nightmare team”, saying that his party “saved” the State during its time in government.

Varadkar quoted US President John F. Kennedy in claiming that the opposition parties have shied away from improving the health system.

Varadkar said that Sinn Féin “ran away from health” after first holding the ministry in Northern Ireland before it was taken by the DUP. He similarly claimed that Fianna Fáil “characterised health as Angola” and “let Mary Harney stay there”.

“Fine Gael is different. We wanted health. Not because it is easy but precisely because it is hard,” he said.

As part of his speech, Varadkar promised a new scheme to lower the cost of medicine for people without medical cards.

He also said that the government was “more determined than ever” to deliver universal healthcare.

In addressing the trolley crisis, the Health Minister acknowledged that “there are still problems” and said that over the New Year he “visited seven emergency departments and met with patients on trolleys and in pain”.

Following the lead of his party leader Enda Kenny who opened the conference last night with a focus on the economy, Varadkar moved away from health only to address fiscal matters.

“We cannot risk the recovery by allowing back into Government Buildings those who ruined our economy,” he said.

The health minister was followed on stage by a number of ministers including Richard Bruton, Simon Coveney and Simon Harris, but it was Michael Noonan who the got the biggest reception.

Noonan received a standing ovation from members before he’d even said a word and this was followed by another when he finished his speech.

 

The Finance Minister and former party leader recently confirmed that he was hospitalised over Christmas with pneumonia. Last night he told reporters that he was fine ahead of his speech to the party faithful this afternoon.

Noonan also took aim at Fianna Fáil.

“Fine Gael cut the interest bill on our national debt to below €7 billion, €4 billion lower than the Fianna Fáil plan. This is the equivalent of €2,000 per year for everyone at work in the country,” he said.

These are the highlights of their failed plan and now Fianna Fáil claim that they are responsible for the recovery. This claim reminds me of Comical Ali in Baghdad claiming victory while the American tanks rolled in behind him.

Fine Gael’s two-day gathering will see an estimated 3,000 members meet for the final time before the general election.

The second day of the Ard Fheis will see discussions on a number of topics including election planning, a possible British exit from the EU and Ireland’s 1916 commemorations.

Read: Security alert at Fine Gael Ard Fheis after suspect cartridge found >

Read: Fine Gael is charging charities for pretty much everything at its Ard Fheis >

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Rónán Duffy

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