What happened at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis today?

The Ard Fheis took place today in Citywest in Dublin

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The Fine Gael Ard Fheis took place today in Citywest in Dublin.

Opening the ceremonies in Dublin last night, Enda Kenny said the party's message to the people will be that to keep the recovery going the coalition needs to be re-elected.

He outlined a 3 step plan - focusing on Jobs, Welfare Reform and Housing. 

Crime

600 more Gardaí a year are being promised by Fine Gael, with Minister Frances Fitzgerald saying they are still reversing the Fianna Fáil policy that starved the Gardaí of new blood and new vehicles.

"Fine Gael will continue recruiting a rate of at least 600 a year until we get the strength of the force back up to 14,000 and beyond", the Minister told the Ard Fheis in Dublin.

Minister Fitzgerald also says it will be the priority if re-elected to tackle repeat offending, with new legislation for tougher sentences.

She also revealed details of the Garda 'Operation Thor' that aims to crackdown on burglaries in cities and rural areas. She says there have been:

* 8,827 additional anti-crime patrols
* 11,709 targeted checkpoints
* 5,594 searches
* 12,131 intelligence reports
* 496 arrests

Health

The Health Minister revealed he does his job by doing the opposite to what Micheál Martin did when he was there.

Leo Varadkar told the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Dublin that if Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil get into Government, there will be no jobs and no money to invest in public services.

He said the job is not yet done, but it will take years more investment to fix the health service.

Minister Varadkar says the promises on health from the opposition are fantasy politics:

USC and Childcare

Minister of State Simon Harris outlined that Fine Gael will scrap the Universal Social Charge.

On childcare, he says Fine Gael wants to support families further.

He also said Fine Gael will announce a 'Working Family Payment Scheme' that will be the biggest shake up of our welfare system that will include a 'better off at work guarantee' and a couple with two children will benefit to the tune of €1500 a year:

The Fianna Fáil attack

Enda Kenny launched another attack on Fianna Fáil's economic record as he dismissed claims that Fine Gael has simply continued Fianna Fail's economic policies.

The Taoiseach said Fine Gael had abandoned the economic plan left behind by the previous government and introduced one that worked instead.

Speaking at his party's Ard Fheis last night he claimed responsibility for sending the Troika home and liquidating the former Anglo Irish Bank, saying Fianna Fáil left behind mass immigration and 300,000 lost jobs.

He also poked fun at former Fianna Fáil ministers who denied that the Troika had come to Ireland:

Labour

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister says Fine Gael will work to ensure that both itself and Labour get enough seats to stay in government.

Michael Noonan is the most senior minister to hint that the coalition parties could work together to maximise their seats in the next Dáil.

Minister Noonan says the party will work with Labour to make sure the two parties together have enough seats to stay in power, suggesting "it was the present Government that initiated the recovery and developed it":

Closing the event this evening, the Taoiseach stressed the one choice he said defined the election - that between risk and recovery

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