In an effort to regain political footing after trouble over the Irish Water failure, Fine Gael leaders are actively targeting Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail ahead of the next general election.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said voters would face a stark left/right choice in the election between an administration led by his party or by Sinn Fein, the Irish Times reports.
“The situation is becoming much clearer; the divide in Irish society, the choice will be a Fine Gael-led government or a group possibly led by Sinn Féin,” Kenny said at a British-Irish Council meeting on the Isle of Man.
At a press conference, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan told reporters: “There’s a clear left/right choice emerging now,” he told reporters.
Noonan said that Sinn Féin and the hard left would increase taxation, which was in contrast to the Government’s drive to cut tax.
“There is a big gulf between the economic policies and nowhere is that clearer than in the attitude to taxation and I was simply pointing out where the political debate is now going and what people should strategically look at,” he said.
The minister also questioned Fianna Fail’s stance on coalition with Sinn Fein.
Senior Fine Gael members say the concentration on Sinn Féin may marginalize Fianna Fáil.
“Fianna Fáil aren’t saying anything that is hugely different from the Government, so they might not matter if it is between Sinn Féin and us.”
The Irish Times has reported that statements from Kenny and Noonan are being seen as a response to internal pressure within Fine Gael.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams responded to the attack by saying the election should be held straight away, while members of Fianna Fáil dismissed the offensive strike as an attempt to rally the Fine Gael base in the wake of the Irish water debacle.