By BRIAN MOORE
THERE was a loud and clear call to arms for the members and supporters of Fine Gael in West Cork, as Deputy Noel Harrington TD officially launched his election campaign with Minister Simon Coveney in Bantry.
The minister said Fine Gael would be ‘gutted’ if they were not returned to power.
Speaking to a large gathering of local supporters at his constituency office in the town, Deputy Harrington was joined by several local Fine Gael councillors and ex-councillors, as well Deirdre Clune MEP and Minister Coveney TD, who was on hand to officially launch the deputy’s campaign.
‘We have a good story to tell. While we have had to take some very difficult decisions along the way, I think it is clear that the tide has turned and we are at the beginning of a real recovery,’ said Deputy Harrington. ‘This recovery is very fragile and I feel the biggest threat to this country’s future now is an unstable political situation and we must all ensure that come the election, the work that has been put in place can continue,’ Deputy Harrington said.
Speaking to The Southern Star, Deputy Harrington said that he is looking forward to what he acknowledges will be a ‘difficult’ election campaign for the government parties.
‘I have no doubt that the upcoming campaign will be challenging. I think people can see that there is the beginning of a recovery, it’s not as widespread as I or the government would like, but things are getting better.
There has been a significant improvement in the tourism sector in our area and the agricultural sector has been supported as best as possible as well. However, we need to work to increase opportunities for the construction industry in this area. I want to see supports put in place so that more social housing projects get the green light. I think this is crucial, not only for this constituency, but for the country as well,’ Deputy Harrington said.
Minister Coveney told the Fine Gael supporters who had travelled from across the constituency that it was crucial that West Cork retained its two seats for the party.
‘We have a very serious campaign ahead of us. We must remember that we are the fastest growing economy in the western world and right now we are creating about 1,400 jobs per week, with unemployment standing at below 8.8%. The last thing we need is a radical change in government right now,’ he said.
‘You have two great candidates here,’ he told the crowd, ‘who have worked tirelessly for this constituency, and it is vitally important for this area that they both retain their seats.’
He added: ‘If we don’t retain two seats in West Cork we don’t stay in government. It is as blunt as that. It will be all over by the end of February. Can you imagine how gutted we’ll be, as a political party, if we, having done all of the hard work, having put our country back on track and taken the blows along the way, only to hand over that country to some populist radical alternative that will start reversing Ireland from the progress we have made? That simply can’t happen and we can’t let it happen. So let’s keep the recovery going,’ Minister Coveney said.