Kenny pitches for ‘grey vote’ with pension increases
With less than two weeks to go before Ireland’s General Election and both Fine Gael and Labour suffering in opinion polls Taoiseach Enda Kenny has pitched for the ‘grey vote’ by promising to increase old age pensions to €260 a week from the current €233.30.
Irish people in the UK will look on enviously as pensioners in this country, under new rules coming into force in April, will get just £69.50 rising to a maximum of £115.95.
It is just one of the more eyecatching manifesto promises in the mot unpredictable Irish general election in many years. Opinion polls have shown voters are not happy with the outgoing Fine Gael-Labour coalition despite their claims to have brought the Irish economy into recovery.
With no party predicted to get an overall majority in the new 158-seat Dail and Fine Gael’s existing partner Labour expected to take a trouncing with even Tanaiste Joan Burton expected to lose her seat, all eyes are on whether there will be a FG-FF coalition – almost a century after the civil war that formed the two parties. On Monday, just ahead of a major TV debate at the University of Limerick, Mr. Kenny insisted that, despite media reports he had left the door open to such a deal, he had definitively ruled out a deal with FF.
Many commentators still interpreted his words to mean that depending on the size of the parties on 26 February there is still a possibility.
Last weekend an opinion poll by Red C for the Sunday Business Post showed slight drops for Fine Gael and gains for Sinn Fein despite widespread criticism of its justice polices and its pledge to abolish Ireland’s jury-less special criminal courts.