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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 22 May, 2019
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Fianna Fáil eyeing up a return to power

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

Fianna Fáil.

Paidi OSe funeral Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin with his predecessor Brian Cowen. Source: Niall Carson

As everyone begins to get into election mode, Fianna Fáil seems particularly like it has its eye on the prize of returning to power.

The party, which suffered a drumming in the 2011 general election following the depths of the economic crisis, is unlikely to lead the next government – but it may play a secondary role.

Regularly derided by Fine Gael for ‘having no policies’, the party is putting its money where its mouth is over the next few days.

ff no policies

Today will see Fianna Fáil launch its National Drugs Action Plan, and next Tuesday marks the day we’ll finally get to see its long-awaited health service policy.

Speaking about the document on Morning Ireland, the party’s health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said that “after consideration and in depth analysis we took the view that universal health insurance isn’t a model that will actually work in this country”.

Kelleher said UHI would be “a red line issue” if the party was to form part of a coalition government. He said it is “the wrong way to go” as it will “burden a lot of families with excessive costs”, adding that the party favours using general taxation to raise the funds needed for health insurance.

The Cork North Central TD said Fianna Fáil supports the government’s policy of free GP care for under 6s and wants to to pump €120 million per year, for three to five years, into “beefing up the capacity” of primary care and community care.

He said about half of this money would be raised through a sugar tax, while the rest would come from general taxation.

Of late, there have been rumblings of discontent within the party and unhappiness by some over Micheál Martin’s leadership, as well as defection and the ongoing ‘War of Dún Laoghaire‘. These latest policy developments show the party wants to move on and focus on the next election – whenever that will be.

The agenda

  • Health Minister Leo Varadkar will be answering questions in the Dáil at 9.30am.
  • Intellectual disability and ageing will be the focus of the health committee’s meeting at the same time.
  • The Public Accounts Committee will discuss a cross-border broadband initiative at 10am.
  • TDs will debate free GP care for over 70s, before turning their attention to anti-terrorism legislation, from 10.45am onwards.
  • Labour Senator Lorraine Higgins will launch a bill aimed at addressing online abuse and bullying at 11am.
  • At the same time, the Anti-Austerity Alliance will launch a countdown to Saturday’s ‘bin your water bill’ march.
  • Tánaiste Joan Burton will answer Leaders’ Questions at noon.
  • Also at noon, Fianna Fáil will publish its National Drugs Action Plan.
  • Debate on Sinn Féin’s private members’ motion on low pay and zero-hour contracts will resume at 12.41pm.
  • The European Committee will discuss the possible implications of a British exit from the EU at 2pm.
  • TDs and Senators on the transport committee will discuss the Road Traffic Bill at 2.30pm.

Inside Leinster House

There has been some serious back-and-forth between Sinn Féin and Labour, with Joan Burton having another go at Mary Lou McDonald - accusing her of stunt politics. Meanwhile, Gerry Adams said he can’t see the point of Labour…

What the others are saying

  • Taoisaeach Enda Kenny has urged bus drivers to not go on strike, while Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is considering major reform of bail laws, according to the Irish Times
  • The same paper reports that, if in power, Fianna Fáil would phase out alcohol sponsorship of sporting events.
  • Fine Gael and Labour TDs are putting pressure on their parties to deliver relief for families in deep mortgage arrears, according to the Irish Independent

In case you missed it

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

  • It emerged that Fine Gael and Labour TDs WILL take part in Vincent Browne’s nationwide constituency debates.
  • Clare Daly has alleged that gardaí covered up the murder of a civilian.
  • Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan was the called a “scumbag b***h” on an anti-water charge Facebook page. 

On the Twitter machine

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin shared this observation about Ukip.

Originally published: 9am

Read: Enda and Joan look beyond water … to getting your vote

Read: Sinn Féin weighs into the same-sex marriage debate

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Órla Ryan

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