Can we really trust what we hear from the political parties in the lead up to a General Election?

In advance of the general election on 17 May 2002 'Prime Time' takes a look at the records of the last two governments; the Rainbow Coalition of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Democratic Left and the minority coalition government of Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats (PDs).

Pledges made by government programmes are commitments and meant to be kept. Politicians make the claim that when they were last in power they delivered on their promises.

Labour leader Ruairí Quinn believes when in power his party delivered in achieving truth in politics and justice in economics. Minister for Health Micheál Martin claims the Fianna Fáil party has not only delivered but exceeded what was promised for the health service. Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan says his party delivered on promise particularly in the economy and management of public services. Leader of the PDs and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment Mary Harney highlights job creation as the strength of the current coalition.

While the country sounds prosperous, not everyone is feeling the benefit. Donna Kinsella finds it hard to make ends meet and challenges somebody in the government to live on her money for a week,

And tell them there’s my bills, you pay my bills and tell me how much you’ve left on Thursday evening at four o' clock on social welfare payments.

People in Tullamore are not taken in by political promises.

Promises are easily made but they’re just as easily broken.

It seems people are extremely concerned about the health services and hospital waiting lists. Micheál Martin agrees that the waiting list is unacceptable but highlights the investment made following cuts by the previous government,

We’ve actually significantly invested in waiting lists and the key issue is actually waiting times and if you go through the figures by speciality you will see very dramatic reduction.

Housing is also an issue for the electorate as local authority waiting lists continue to grow. Father Sean Healy of Conference of Religious in Ireland (CORI) believes the number of local authority and social housing being provided are inadequate if the scale of the problem is to be tackled. He sees this as a political failure.

Threshold director Kieran Murphy is concerned that people living in the rental sector have few rights and minuscule security. Michael Noonan says going into the 2002 election tenants' rights are an issue. He details why they were not delivered when he was in office.

This episode of ‘Prime Time’ was broadcast on 25 April 2002. The reporter is Brendan O’Brien.