Two million voters in the Irish Republic go to the polls on Thursday (18 February) to decide a general election which looks like being a close race.
SV PAN FitzGerald walking through cheering crowds
SCU FitzGerald speaking
SV FitzGerald seated at table with chairman and Labour leader Michael O'Leary
CU O'Leary speaking as reporter asks questions
GV Fianna Fail candidates at table facing reporters
CU Haughey speaking
DR. FITZGERALD: "I knew the measures we had to take in this budget would be tough measures necessary to preserve the economic independence of this country. We got our political independence 60 years ago. Since then, we have maintained it, and our economic independence. This country's ability to borrow abroad, to maintain the value of its currency, to protect unemployment and our ability to look after the needs of social justice have been maintained for 60 years by successive governments. It came under threat under the last government because of the profligacy of their spending. They placed our economy at risk, our solvency at risk."
REPORTER: (QUESTION TO LABOUR LEADER MICHAEL O'LEARY): "Are you fighting this election with the same policies as Fine Gael?"
O'LEARY: "We are emphasising the Labour Party priorities, which are referred to in the joint programme."
REPORTER: "Are they different policies?"
O'LEARY: "No. They are in the joint programme."
REPORTER: "Then on what basis should anybody vote Labour rather than Fine Gael?"
O'LEARY: "Labour is represented so that we can lay the foundation for a future Labour government."
CHARLES HAUGHEY: "Unemployment has gone up by 23,000 in the last six months, in other words by a thousand a week. It is just as if one large factory employing a thousand people closed down every week during the last six months."
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Background: Two million voters in the Irish Republic go to the polls on Thursday (18 February) to decide a general election which looks like being a close race. Opinion polls published two days before the poll show former Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald and his Fine Gael party trailing behind the opposition Fianna Fail party led by another former Prime Minister, Charles Haughey. The election was called when Dr. FitzGerald's government was defeated over its budget proposals which would have sharply increased taxes. Dr. FitzGerald is going to the country in coalition with Eire's Labour Party -- and still advocating harsh economy measures. But with three days to go to polling day, all party leaders were busy campaigning, knowing that the outcome is likely to depend less on policies and more on their personal appeal.