Tag Archives: Fine Gael


From top: Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny with Fine Gael TDs and MEPs at the party’s think-in in Newbridge, Co Kildare yesterday; Kate O’Connell TD arrives.

You may recall how members of Fine Gael were to be briefed by Marion Coy, chair of the Collins Institute, at the party’s think-in yesterday – in relation to a report she carried out about the party’s poor performance in the general election.

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell was also to brief the party’s members about a second, separate report about the election.

Ms O’Connell and John Downing, of the Irish Independent, spoke to Sean O’Rourke this morning about the reports.

From the discussion…

Seán O’Rourke: “Kate O’Connell, you, as I said, with party colleagues, were part of a group tasked with identifying what went wrong for Fine Gael in the election which led to the loss of so many seats. You finished this election with 50 seats compared to 76 at the previous one in 2011. So, summarise your findings.”

Kate O’Connell: “Well, I suppose, yesterday what we presented was a synopsis of some of the recommendations in the report, the entire report will be published in due course. But there was various weaknesses in the campaign such as, obviously, the message, I think is well, been well discussed at this stage. That didn’t seem to resonate with the voters. We seemed to somehow lose sight of, we expected that everybody thought that it was based on the economy and they would vote for us based on the fact that, as a party, we had had brought Ireland from the brink but, as it turned out, people weren’t thinking that way. And, for some reason, we didn’t seem to get our message out there to the people. And if we did get a message out there, the people didn’t really like it. So, I suppose, there was an issue with communication of our message. To some extent, people didn’t really know why you would vote Fine Gael over perhaps other parties. So, there was a messaging issue. As there seems to have been a very, very close group of people that perhaps in control and there was very little influence from outside. There was an overuse of commercial focus groups and that sort of thing…”

O’Rourke: “Yeah, I’m just looking here, in the archive. Fine Gael spent over €200,000 of State funding on opinion polling and focus groups last year in the run-up the February election.”

O’Connell: “Yes, yeah, yes, it’s shocking really.”

O’Rourke: “Shocking that you have such money to spend or shocking that you spend it with such little effect.”

O’Connell: “Well, I mean, you’ve a pot of money to spend and, as a Fine Gaeler, we were always involved in fundraising activities and I would really like to see the money being spent and resources are scarce. It’s a big organisation…”

O’Rourke: “And on top…”

O’Connell: “Resources in the right direction.”

O’Rourke:On top of which another €100,000 of public money was spent on a website and social media services and this is just according to returns published by the Standards In Public Office Commission [Sipo]. I mean that seems to have been money down the drain?”

O’Connell: “Well, I’m sure there are some elements that worked out and I’m not privy to all the data from that research but, what I would say, is that it does seem that we didn’t get very good bang for our buck…”


John Downing: “She [Marion Coy] describes the HQ structure, it’s interesting that Fine Gael’s headquarters is a street away from Leinster House and Government Buildings, yet the criticisms, one thing in common in both reports, is that this campaign was too top-down, that it was dictated by a small group at the top of the party pyramid and Ms Coy recommends a overhaul of many of the elements of the party, including research and the communications office. And she talks about electoral strategy and planning for elections done in a more inclusive manner.”

Previously: ‘I Didn’t Enjoy The Election…But I’ve Got My Mojo Back’

The John Deasy Transcript

Listen back in full here

Pic: RTE


Stephen Donnelly TD

This morning

Following his unexpected departure from the Social Democrats Stephen Donnelly went on the Pat Kenny show on Newstalk where he spoke with Jonathan Healy (sitting in for Pat) about his future plans.

Jonathan Healy: First of all, after all that’s happened this week, has the dust settled somewhat?

Stephen Donnelly: “Yeah, I think it has. It’s been a tough few days, the decision on Monday was a very sad decision for me, personally. It was some time in coming, y’know, I’ve been considering it, I’ve been talking to some people, but I’ve been immersed in the Social Democrats for the best part of two years, and it was a very intense thing to do. I’m very proud to have done it, very proud to have worked with the people that were involved with it.

..it was a sad day, but yeah, life moves on. The country moves on, there are important things to be doing. We’d #appletax on Wednesday, we’ve the new vulture fund amendment for Minister Noonan, which is a great first step, a lot of additional work, so life moves on. There are more important things than the soap opera of politics.”

Healy: “Well, we’ve all been through dramatic breakups in our lifetimes. This was quite dramatic, as your fellow co-leaders, if I can call them that, were suggesting you were workshy, did that hurt?”

Donnelly: “No, it didn’t hurt at all, I grew up in Ireland with a mop of red hair, you learn to get a fairly thick skin pretty quick.  I’m more than capable of throwing stones across the House, I have done so many times over the last six years, so not at all.”

Healy: “Were you workshy, that’s the question!”

Donnelly: “No. One of the comments I made to one of my colleagues was ‘if they’re going to have a go, you’d think they’d pick something with a little more credibility’. There’s nobody involved in setting up a new party, and to be honest, Jonathan, very few people in politics that are workshy. It’s an intense job, it’s a very rewarding job, but no, clearly there was no merit to that. Look, it was a tough week for everybody, they felt they had to say something. I think it was disappointing, they let themselves down, it’s irrelevant.”

Healy: “Have you spoken to Roisín [Shorthall] or have you spoken to Catherine [Murphy] since this happened on Monday?”

Donnelly: “No, no we haven’t. We had an awkward session in the Dáil with the three of us in there as we’re all still in the same technical group. But we’re all there to serve, you know, and we’ll move on. We’ll all do the best we can as TDs, the best we can to our ability, so we’ll just move on.”


Healy: “You want to be in government, you’ve made that clear…”

Donnelly: “Sorry, can I, sorry to cut across you there, I haven’t made that clear, that’s not why I’m in politics…”

Healy: “No, your motivation is, if you’re in government in whatever capacity, you make more of a difference.”

Donnelly: “Sure.”

Healy: “That’s what I’m saying.”

Donnelly: “Sorry, yeah.”

Healy: “You have more of an opportunity now, perhaps, to do that, because, we know the arithmetic in the Dáil. There are many people now outside of your own constituency, who would like to see you serve some way in government. And let’s face it, you’re hot property, in political terms, Fine Gael might want you, Fianna Fáil might want you, is the phone ringing?”

Donnelly: “No, the phone isn’t ringing, I’ve had a few texts from a few friends of mine in some of the other political parties, I haven’t been approached on John [Halligan], and John is a Minister of State, not said that he’s resigning, but he has obviously sent out a few warning shots, and is taking the situation in Waterford very carefully. But, y’know, Minister Halligan has a job, and no-one is taking his place, because he’s doing it.”

Healy: “I was asking more about Fianna Fáil, who seem to be linked to you in some way. Has a call come through from Mícheál Martin yet?”

Donnelly: “No, no call has come through, I have taken soundings, I will continue to take soundings both in Leinster House and more importantly here in Wicklow. I was around the constituency yesterday, around Arklow town and Wicklow, talking to supporters, and talking to people on the street. Just listening. You know, ultimately, I work for them, we work for them. So, it’s important that I hear what they have to say on the best thing to do

Healy: “So for now, you’re staying as an Independent, for now, but the future will probably hold something different, you just don’t know what that is yet, you’ll have to consult widely.”

Donnelly: “Yeah, yeah. Exactly.”

Listen back in full here.



The lads.

This afternoon.

Talks between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on the formation of the next government relocate to Trinity, College Dublin.

Top pic, Fine Gael:  from left: : Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Paschal Donohoe.
Bottom pic: Fianna Fáil, from left: Barry Cowen, Michael McGrath, Charlie McConalogue and Jim O’Callaghan.

Sam Boal/Rollingnews


David Smith complains about what he calls ridiculously intrusive “haitches” in the pronunciation of taoiseach and tánaiste on the airwaves. These are both Irish words, and in the Irish language, the letters D and T, if followed by a broad vowel (a, o, u) are pronounced as if they were followed by the letter “h”. For convenience, I call them “soft” Ds and Ts. So the broadcasters are right – it should be “thaoiseach” and “thánaiste”.

And while I’m at it, “Fine”, as in Fine Gael, is also an Irish word, and is pronounced “finna”, and not “fine”, to rhyme with “wine”. Enda Kenny gets it right. Do his supporters not hear the difference?

Doireann Ní Bhriain,
Dublin 6.


Vowels – softy does it (Irish Times letters)

Pic: Laura Hutton


This afternoon.

Government buildings, Dublin

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny (top) and Fianna Fáil Leader Michaél Martin (above) slowly head for talks.

Mr Martin told reporters:

“Just before lunchtime I rang the Taoiseach and we agreed that we would engage in the aftermath of that (Wednesday’s vote for taoiseach). I told him we were in negotiations with independents, just as he is, and when that process had concluded, we’d engage after that.

“We didn’t get into that detail [about whether Fianna Fail would support a Fine Gael minority] I know people are anxious to know when a government is going to be formed and all of that, but I think we’re some weeks away from that yet.”


Sam Boal/Rollingnews


Former Galway Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh

Via The Sunday Times Ireland:

While [Fine Gael TD] Brian Walsh, 43, announced he would not be standing for re-election in his Galway seat last November, he told a local radio station that he would “most certainly” see out his term until election day.

Walsh resigned his seat on January 14, three weeks before President Michael D Higgins dissolved the Dail and the election was called.

On November 11, Walsh told the Keith Finnegan Show on Galway Bay FM he would not be getting a “gravy train” payout, or any pension until he was 66. The TD promised he would “most certainly” fulfil his mandate “right up until election date”.

However, on December 16, Walsh wrote to the Oireachtas to apply for “early retirement on grounds of ill health”. {Walsh said he had been admitted to hospital in 2013 “with acute diverticulitis” and spent nine days under a consultant’s care]

If his application is granted he can get his pension now instead of waiting 23 years until he is 66.

The decision will be made by Labour’s Brendan Howlin, the ceann comhairle Seán Barrett and the Seanad cathaoirleach Paddy Burke, who are trustees of the Oireachtas pension scheme.

They could grant Walsh a notional extra five years’ service if they assume he would have been re-elected were it not for his illness.

The total benefit before retirement age could be worth almost €500,000 over 23 years.

Good times.

Walsh vowed to forgo TD pension (Mark Tighe, Sunday Times)



G’wan the boyos.

This afternoon

Members of Fianna Fail’s parliamentary parties including new TDs meet to discuss potential coalition options.

From top: Sean Haughey; Jackie Cahill, Eamon Scanlon; Willie O’Dea, Billy Kelleher and Michael Moynihan.

Ecstatic Dáil bar manager (out of picture).

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews


This afternoon.

Leinster House, Dublin

From top: Fine Gael TDs Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Kate O’Connell and Regina Doherty arriving for the party’s parliamentary group meeting; Taoiseach Enda Kenny with newly-elected Fine Gael TDs.

Poor Simon.

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 21.34.51

From left: Former Cork East Fine Gael TD Tom Barry and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton

Earlier this evening, former FG TD for Cork East Tom Barry spoke to Mary Wilson on RTÉ’s Drivetime.

Mr Barry lost his seat at the weekend.

Now he wants Enda Kenny to lose his leadership of Fine Gael.

Mary Wilson: “You lost your seat in Cork East on Saturday. Do you look at your leadership and party headquarters? Did you feel let down?”

Tom Barry: “Well, hi Mary. Certainly, you know, while we all ran very good campaigns on the ground, there was certainly no welcome within our party for people like myself who were outspoken. If you offered constructive criticism, it was almost dismissed. And there seemed to be a willingness to look at focus groups and advisors rather than look at the people who were dealing, you know, the elected representatives who were dealing on the ground with people. And it’s very disappointing, because, you know, we all have a lot of experience to offer and, you know, we have obviously suffered because of that. And I would say now, you know, for people who are saying, ‘let Fianna Fail and Fine Gael go in together’, I mean we did not get a mandate to govern this time and, you know, give the people what they voted for. They’re looking for an alternative government – whatever it’s going to bring, be it Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Independents because the people who came out last week – shouting and roaring and saying they had all the solutions to all the problems that we know are there – they need to come out today with those solutions and say they want to form a government to actually implement those solutions.”

Wilson: “We’ll get to formation of Government in a moment. Stay with your years as a deputy and the Fine Gael parliamentary parties where every TD is entitled to have his or her say. You say there were things you wanted to say. Enda Kenny has always been seen as a chairman, a very good manager of the party. Was he not listening to you?”

Barry: “Well, I mean I often spoke up and criticised at meetings…”

Wilson: “What did you criticise?”

Barry: “Well, initially, I suppose, the very first one where we had a problem was when Kevin Cardiff made such a mistake in finance and I asked for him to be removed. He wasn’t removed, he was promoted. And I took that very bad because I just felt it gave the wrong, the wrong…”

Wilson: “The wrong impression… And what else, for example, around the setting up of Irish Water, were you a supporter of that?”

Barry: “Look, I mean, I’ve run a business for many years and I’ve paid for water. I argued about how they could do it many different ways but, you know what, they were pulling in solutions day after day, trying to manage a situation that was getting out of hand but none of us were asked for our opinion. We were never given…”

Wilson: “What about the issues of health on the ground, and you’ve had issues of overcrowding in the Cork University Hospital, did you raise those issues?”

Barry: “Well, health wasn’t, to be fair, wasn’t my area of expertise but I mean, week upon week, we brought up cases of, when the negotiations for the, or the review of the discretionary medical cards. I mean there was, eventually it led to a point where I had to march up to the Taoiseach’s office and demand that a certain individual who was absolutely worthy of a medical card but to be given it because I wasn’t elected to see people like that without a medical card. It was absolutely ridiculous…”

Wilson: “And did you march up?”

Barry: “Yes I did.”

Wilson: “And did you march in? Did you talk to the Taoiseach?”

Barry: “I did of course and I was absolutely at my wits end because, to be honest, that wasn’t good enough. I mean we had it for weeks upon weeks at the parliamentary party, bringing it up and this was done for a so-called saving of €28million but it’s you know, it’s very frustrating when you’re in a backbench position – you give your opinion, you expect it to be taken on board but it wasn’t. And, you know, that’s the reality of it.”

Wilson: “Do you feel let down by Enda Kenny?”

Barry: “Well look, I mean, I feel very disappointed that there wasn’t a more open government. I think they’ve in fairness, I think there was a lot of control exercised and I think they’re reaping the rewards of that control now. And to be fair, look, I’m not bitter, I mean I’m just saying it as it is. I’m obviously not part of this new government and I’ll move on with my life and, luckily enough, I can go back to my business but there are many others who can’t who were extremely good TDs…”

Wilson: “And what should Enda Kenny do now?

Barry: “Well, he needs to take responsibility. We have seen our party go into a meltdown, we got more seats than we deserved because a lot of Labour TDs unfortunately were eliminated to elect Fine Gael and vice versa. That won’t happen again when those people are gone. Any person who’s in charge of an organisation where such a seismic collapse happens, you know, in my view, has to go..”

Wilson: “He has to go, and go now?”

Barry: “I mean this isn’t personal, this is just being quite frank about it. It’s a situation that’s unacceptable. But I would say also there is no mandate for Fine Gael to go into Government. We’ll let Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, and all the other parties that are out there who have got votes based on criticism and so-called solutions to let those solutions come into play. I mean, ironically, a lot of them would get their money from increasing corporation tax. They’re anti-Europe and anti-Germany but they’re doing the very things that Europe wants us to do. And just watch the reaction of the many multinationals who give valuable employment here when we start becoming unpredictable…in our economics..”

Wilson: “So you, sorry Tom Barry, for interrupting you, so you think it’s time for Enda Kenny to go, to go now. Who would you like to see replacing him?”

Barry: “Well we’re very fortunate in the party to be fair. We still have extremely capable people such as Frances Fitzgerald, Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney, there are many, many of them, they are very good people who I think can make a definite change and have the energy to do so but it’s not my call. I’m not a member of the parliamentary party, I’m simply like everybody else now at this stage, watching it but I do have a very informed position at this moment in time and that’s, it’s only my opinion. Certainly, look, I can’t affect change but this country is at a very pivotal point.”

Wilson: “And would you be saying any of this if you were still the Fine Gael TD for Cork East?

Barry: “Absolutely, absolutely, I went to An Taoiseach’s office in Christmas 2014 to vocalise, there was a lot of problems going on at the time, to say, ‘look if it keeps going, something will have to change’ and I’ve made my feelings clear on this. Certainly, one of my first actions, if I was in the parliamentary party would have been to ask for the general secretary to consider his position.”

Wilson: “Tom Curran?”

Barry: “Yes, that fiasco we had with, up in Sligo, where half a million was absolutely wasted…”

Wilson: “The John Perry court case?”

Barry: “Aw sure it was a ridiculous situation where the Taoiseach had said that he could run and apparently he didn’t say it and then, all of us sudden, we go to court and then we pull out, lose half a million which is ridiculous, and then, you know, we have situations where the general secretary is supposed to know what’s happening on the ground and has, in a lot of cases, you know, his interference has lost us seats – that’s the reality of it. The figures don’t lie.”

Wilson: “You blame, do you, the loss of your seat in Cork East on Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the general secretary of the party, Tom Curran?”

Barry: “Well mine and a lot of others but look…”

Listen back in full here