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Drugs, howlers and 'people from headquarters': The standout quotes from the election campaign

The election has brought us some memorable lines.

Image: PA Images

THE 2020 GENERAL election campaign is coming to a close. 

It’s been a short, 25-day campaign, but one filled with plenty of drama, intrigue and memorable clashes.

The broadcast moratorium – which means radio and television stations are not allowed to air any election-related content – came into effect from 2pm today.

While voters living on islands off the coasts of Galway, Mayo and Donegal have already had a chance to vote, polling stations in the rest of the country open at 7am on Saturday and will close at 10pm. 

Come Monday evening, we should have a better idea of how each party has done – but for now we’re going to look over the most memorable quotes of the campaign.

Quotes of the campaign

When it comes to quotes, it might be best to start off with something Taoiseach Leo Varadkar struggled to say.

Questioned in the first election debate about previous drug use by Pat Kenny, Varadkar said that he’d answered the question previously, before pausing for an uncomfortably long time before replying:

Yes, but that was an awful long time ago.

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Varadkar’s attack on his rival during RTE’s Prime Time debate was a little more successful:

Putting Micheal Martin back in office would be like putting John Delaney back in charge of the FAI (Football Association of Ireland) in nine years’ time.

Another quote that attracted attention was Catherine Noone’s now infamous comments on her party leader’s social skills, for which she apologised.

“He’s autistic like, he’s on the spectrum, there’s no doubt about it,” she said while canvassing in her constituency.
He’s uncomfortable socially and he doesn’t always get the in-between bits.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also had his fair share of memorable quotes, with this one in particular targeting Sinn Féin. 

The old provos hate the special criminal (court)

Martin also faced questions over his decision to rescind support for a rent freeze, which he said his would be unconstitutional. 

That didn’t stop him accidentally signing up to a manifesto from the National Women’s Council of Ireland, which committed candidates to ’10 key demands’ such as public childcare, ending violence against women and a rent freeze.

Martin blamed “people from headquarters” for the mistake. 

People from headquarters sent that over and that is something that  I have dealt with… No, we are not promising a rent freeze because it is unconstitutional.

general-election-ireland-2020 Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has had a few memorable quotes. Source: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

Eamon Ryan critiqued his own proposals to introduce wolves into Ireland:

It was a howler.

Mary Lou McDonald used the three-way debate with Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to target both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. 

Spare us the pretence of a critical tension between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Sinn Féin also faced pressure over Conor Murphy’s remarks about the murder of Paul Quinn in 2007, which he was eventually forced to apologise for.

The only criminals involved in this scenario are the people who so cruelly and viciously took his life. I have spoken to Conor and he is aware that the comments he made after the murder of Paul Quinn have caused hurt and that that hurt has endured, so he apologised for those remarks, he withdraws those remarks and he will speak to Breege Quinn and the family directly.

During the first seven-way leaders’ debate, Richard Boyd Barrett garnered the first applause of the evening when he took on vulture funds:

First of all if you want to solve the housing crisis, what you don’t do is do what Fianna Fail and the Greens and then Fine Gael and Labour did, sell off 40 billion euro or more of public land through Nama to property speculators and vulture funds.

Fianna Fail’s Jack Chambers was criticised by some viewers for his reaction during Claire Byrne Live’s Climate Change debate:

You know full well that it is a broad department and I’d prefer if you asked questions on the issue we’re discussing today, because we take it very seriously, and to start with that point is disingenuous to the seriousness of the issue of online pornography for children across this country.

Leo Varadkar also responded in an interesting way to questions about candidate John Paul Phelan’s criticism of the Green Party.

There are a fair few nutters in every party, including my own.
And finally, who could forget Ivan Yates’ opening remarks at the Virgin Media One debate?
Has there ever been such a collection of chancers and charlatans put before the Irish public?

With reporting from Press Association 

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