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The TrailFix: Creamy cakes, jargon and smashed glass as we FINALLY get underway

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.

03/02/2016 General Election Starts. Pictured staff Labour's Aodhán Ó Ríordáin tries some of the baked goods at Dafne Grecco bakery in Clontarf while on the campaign trail with Joan Burton today. Source: Sam Boal

Everybody’s talking about

The 2016 general election was unleashed on the public just after 9.30am yesterday morning when Enda Kenny arrived into the Dáil to declare that he would be asking the President to dissolve it.

A short-time later the actual date – 26 February – was inadvertently confirmed by the government chief whip Paul Kehoe, and then Kenny himself on Twitter and Facebook.

This was Enda’s way of showing he’s down with the kids. But the opposition said it smacks of disrespect for the Dáil. In reality, no one will really care.

People might be more interested in Fine Gael’s pledge to abolish USC and create a ‘rainy day’ fund with the so-called fiscal space – the amount of money that will be available to the next government if the economy is booming.

But Kenny didn’t want to talk “economic jargon” when asked to account for alleged discrepancies in his party’s numbers at a press conference earlier. Eventually he handed over to Michael Noonan to explain the detail with more promised when Fine Gael’s much-vaunted long term economic plan is launched today.

Detail matters and voters will, more than ever over the next three weeks, be focussing on it. All parties should take note.

Slap Down of the Day 

It doesn’t get more devastating than this from Joan Burton:

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 16.07.20

Row of the Day 

As the election rolls on watch out for subtle policy differences and rows between Fine Gael and Labour. Take universal free GP care. Labour says it can be introduced during the term of the next government, Fine Gael says it can’t and that it wants to target under 18s in the first instance.

Today, Joan Burton accused Leo Varadkar of not being ambitious enough and wondered why he doesn’t just hire more GPs. Later in the day, Kenny said that Fine Gael’s plans – to roll it out at a slower pace – are more realistic.

What he really means is that Labour’s plans are unrealistic. Shots fired.

Bull**** Claim of the Day 

3/2/2016 General Election Campaigns Starts Source: Leah Farrell

Gerry Adams reckons that a good election for Sinn Féin would involve winning 15 seats – one more than its current number. No one’s beleving that one, Gerry. In reality, anything less than 20 seats would be disastrous for the party.

WTF Moment of the Day 

As Joan Burton visited Clontarf, the media scrum resulted in a glass being smashed and the Tánaiste pulling this face.

joan smash Source: RTÉ

It was a good day for 

  • Every single TD who’s wondered why on earth they’ve been in the Dáil for the last three weeks. The exodus from Leinster House in the afternoon was swift and the place was deserted, but for staff, by 3pm.
  • Fianna Fáil were among the first to get posters of Micheál Martin up on Merrion Street and its big mobile ad even gate-crashed a Sinn Féin doorstep.

It was a bad day for 

  • Labour might be concerned about the optics of Joan Burton waving Kenny off to the Phoenix Park. By all accounts, the party had little notice of arrangements leading up to and immediately after the Dáil’s dissolution. It all gave the impression of Enda and Fine Gael being in complete control.

Today’s news: What’s happening on the campaign trail 

  • Fine Gael: Enda Kenny and senior ministers launch the long term economic plan in Dublin before the Taoiseach hits the road, canvassing in Kildare and Mullingar.
  • Labour: Joan Burton is launching the party’s full employment plan at the Boann Distillery in Drogheda and visiting local businesses in Louth.
  • Sinn Féin: Mary Lou McDonald and others will be canvassing on O’Connell Street at 11am. Gerry Adams is opening a new campaign office in Louth and is canvassing in Dublin West and Mid-West in the afternoon.
  • Fianna Fáil: The party is outlining the “economic choice facing voters” in the election, while leader Micheál Martin is canvassing in Waterford.
  • AAA-PBP: The left-wing alliance is launching its general election campaign at a press conference in Dublin.
  • Green Party: The party is holding a briefing on its general election campaign in Dublin.

First published 3 February

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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