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One of Enda's right-hand men had a pop at Fintan O'Toole in the Irish Times today

The government press secretary Feargal Purcell has accused O’Toole of leaving out facts that don’t suit his narrative

Feargal Purcell and Fintan O'Toole
Feargal Purcell and Fintan O'Toole
Image: Photocall Ireland

ONE OF ENDA Kenny’s top advisors has written a strongly-worded letter to the Irish Times criticising columnist Fintan O’Toole for “incomplete, one-sided stories”.

In a letter published today, the government press secretary Feargal Purcell accuses O’Toole of leaving out facts that don’t suit his narrative. Purcell is the Taoiseach’s chief spokesperson.

The intervention is a response to a column in yesterday’s paper in which O’Toole took issue with comments made by the Taoiseach last week.

Speaking during the crisis talks on Greece in Brussels, Kenny claimed: “In Ireland’s case we did not increase income tax; we did not increase VAT; we did not increase PRSI… ”

The remarks have been the subject of much scrutiny in recent days with economists and Fianna Fáil being highly critical of the Taoiseach.

They’ve pointed out that there have been increases in VAT – from 21 to 23 per cent – and an effective increase in PRSI as well as the introduction of so-called ‘stealth taxes’ like property tax.

In a column entitled ‘Who will dare say out loud ‘emperor has no clothes’?’, O’Toole wrote yesterday:

… we all know that the Taoiseach wasn’t making a statement about reality. He was telling a story. At some point in our lives – usually when we’re three or four – we all ask the question: “Daddy, did this really happen or is it a makey-up story?” And once we know which is which, we’re okay with it.
And by now, we’re more or less okay with the fact that Ireland’s primary presence on the European stage is as a makey-up story. We don’t live in a country; we live in a narrative, a tale with no more truth content than Cinderella and considerably less than “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

The government said yesterday that Kenny has clarified the remarks at two subsequent press conferences.

In the Dáil yesterday, the Taoiseach also made reference to the cut in VAT in the hospitality sector as well as unwinding tax increases introduced by Fianna Fáil in the previous Dáil.

Government National Internship Schemes Feargal Purcell with Enda Kenny Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

In his letter this morning, Purcell writes:

Fintan O’Toole likes stories. Incomplete, one-sided stories are his favourite kind.
In these, it’s okay to leave out any fact that doesn’t suit your narrative.
Fintan chose to leave out some basic facts about the approach of Enda Kenny’s Government to dealing with Ireland’s financial crisis.

The letter outlines that there have been no income tax increases in the last four budgets with tax reductions benefiting 742,000 people introduced in the most recent budget.

It also notes the cut in VAT in the hospitality sector which has created an extra 30,000 jobs.

Purcell concludes:

Enda Kenny’s Government has pursued pro-growth, pro-jobs policies with a range of measures to support small business, growth in jobs-rich sectors and foreign direct investment. Enda Kenny himself has explained this approach in full at two press conferences subsequent to his original comments but Fintan O’Toole, and others have chosen to ignore that completely. I guess it didn’t suit the narrative either.

O’Toole has already responded to the letter on Twitter this morning:

Read: Fianna Fáil’s 45 reasons why Enda was wrong about not increasing taxes

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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