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Fine Gael accused of negative campaigning by opposition leader

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin speaks to reporters outside RTÉ television studio in Dublin Picture by Aine McMahon/PA

The leader of Fianna Fáil has said Irish people do not respond well to negative campaigning as his party opened up a 12-point lead on rivals Fine Gael.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin on Sunday, Micheál Martin urged caution over the poll and said it will be a tight race between the two parties.

Fine Gael was accused of negative campaigning after it released a video on Twitter with people wearing masks of Fianna Fáil ministers running around Dublin searching for policies, set to Benny Hill music.

The video was deleted, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying on Saturday the video set out to highlight Fianna Fáil's lack of policies in a light-hearted way but admitted people thought it was silly.

"There has been a lot of negative campaigning by Fine Gael, they would engage in this campaign in a negative way," Mr Martin said.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar told reporters in Dublin on Sunday that "a week is a long time in politics".

He has sought to place Fine Gael's role in negotiating Brexit at the heart of their campaign but it appears to have fallen flat with voters after he said they are not discussing Brexit with him on the doors.

Mr Varadkar said: "We know what happens every time Fianna Fáil gets into power – it ends badly.

"It ends with boom and a bust and unemployment, and ends with us having to wave our friends off as they emigrate.

"It would also mean that our Brexit team of Simon Coveney and Helen McEntee would no longer be representing Ireland as we reach a crucial stage in the Brexit talks when it comes to securing a trade deal with the UK.

"That would be really bad news for rural Ireland, for the economy and for jobs."

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Republic of Ireland news