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The TrailFix: Why is Fianna Fáil having a good election - and can it continue?

The best and worst bits from today’s #ge16 campaign trail.

EVERY NIGHT DURING the general election, TheJournal.ie brings you the latest from the Election 2016 campaign trail.

Everybody’s talking about

The polls might not reflect it in the same way they do for Sinn Féin, but it’s hard to deny that Fianna Fáil is having a quietly effective election. This was typified by the strong performance of its party leader Micheál Martin in last week’s debate and the fact the government parties have stepped up their attacks on the former minister (more of that below).

Martin’s strong performance last week was down to his ability to incisively pick away at government policy over the last five years and expose inaccuracies in criticisms of him and his party. Expect more of it tonight.

3/2/2016 General Election Campaigns Starts Micheál Martin would grab the role of Taoiseach with both hands if given the chance. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

But why is a party that was hated and nearly obliterated five years ago following the economic collapse of the country now finding its message increasingly popular on the doors? Part of the reason is the prudence Fianna Fáil is preaching. Yes, it’s promising  tax cuts and spending increases if the economy continues to grow, but finance spokesperson Michael McGrath says all this would be scaled back if there’s no growth.

The electorate aren’t as convinced by auction politics as they used to be, they’re more sceptical this time around, otherwise the government would be running away with this election. Voters might well like the idea of a sensible-looking figure like Martin having some role to play in the next government. In McGrath and environment spokesperson Barry Cowen, Fianna Fáil also has some smart Dáil and media performers.

It’s been a good start but the government attacks will be stepped up considerably from now until election day and voters will be reminded repeatedly of the bad old days under Fianna Fáil more than ever before. The question is whether that’s enough to put them off Martin and co, or has Fianna Fáil really been forgiven?

Slap Down of the Day

Speaking of which, Fine Gael rolled out Michael Noonan to deliver a blistering takedown of Fianna Fáil. He accused the party of “trying to fool people into thinking they are born again”. The Finance Minister added:

But the road they’re on is not the road to Damascus. It’s the road right back to ruin and wreckage.

Although his comments were made in a written statement you can just imagine Noonan saying it in that famous Limerick drawl.

Bull**** Claim of the Day

Alan Kelly today claimed he has “never taken the limelight” off party leader Joan Burton.

The evidence would suggest otherwise.

FactCheck of the Day

download (1)

As part of our general election coverage, we’re testing the truth of claims made by candidates and parties on the campaign trail. Dan MacGuill has been examining what effect JobBridge and other schemes have had on the unemployment rate. Tonight, he’ll be factchecking the claims made in the party leaders’ debate.

Row of the Day

Gerry Adams had a tense interview with Red FM’s Neil Prendeville earlier today. We have the best bits.

screenshot.1455560377.36191 Source: www.thejournal.ie

WTF Moment of the Day

In a strange and somewhat unintended intervention, Barry Cowen declared an ambition to lead Fianna Fáil. It’s not exactly what you’d expect when the party is trying to present Micheál Martin as an alternative taoiseach.

screenshot.1455558824.18878 Source: www.thejournal.ie

It was a good day for

It was a bad day for

  • The Green Party lost its High Court bid to be allowed participate in tonight’s debate and this is the saddest tweet of the election from leader Eamon Ryan.

Tomorrow’s news today: What’s happening on the campaign trail

  • Fine Gael: Enda Kenny and Simon Harris will outline the party’s plans to tackle long-term unemployment and end welfare dependency at an event in Louth. The Taoiseach will also canvass in Meath East. 
  • Labour: Joan Burton will launch the party’s education plans in Limerick with a visit to Kerry also on the agenda, including a walkabout in Tralee.
  • Fianna Fáil: In Ennis, Micheál Martin and Colm Keaveney will launch a new policy on supporting people with disabilities, including appointing a minister to cabinet with responsibility for disability issues.
  • Sinn Féin: Mary Lou McDonald will be at the High Court for the Moore Street case, while Gerry Adams will be campaigning in Cork.
  • Social Democrats: The party is launching plans to reform politics and tackle corruption.
  • Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit: The alliance is holding a press conference outside Irish Water headquarters. We can’t imagine what that’ll be about.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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