Top Down ThinkIng



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

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25 thoughts on “Top Down ThinkIng

    1. Kolmo

      “How can we better manipulate and warp the truth to make remarkably easily swayed voters vote us into positions of power which will facilitate our post-politics careers on the boards of corporations we were supposed to be regulating when we were in government.” is the plan

    1. scottser

      if there’s one piece of southpark advice FG should have taken, it’s that every election is always between a douche and a turd.

  1. rotide

    Sidenote, I like Kate, I voted for her.

    What I am liking more and more about her is that she ticks all the right boxes for me politically and doesn’t use any of them as a single platform to beat people over the head with.

    Yes, I’m talking about repeal.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Yeah, screw those pesky liberals always talking about what concerns them. They should realise it makes important internet mysoginists like you uncomfortable so they should keep their mouths shut.

    2. ahjayzis

      I quite like her too.

      It’s always a nice surprise when you find you like and respect someone from the other side of the political fence. I’d never vote for her but I’d stand her a pint!

    3. whut

      yea you’re an idiot to vote for her thinking she would make any headway with repealing the 8th. FG is a Dictator led party, Kenny only listens to one or two faithful lapdogs and handlers. I think she could potentially be good in another party, but FG won’t give her any real power, they just see her as a young woman, and that its good to have a young woman member .. but they wouldnt see her as more. They’re an awful party who don’t care about the public and you’re enabling them with your Kate vote.

      1. rotide

        That’s where we disagree whut. I voted for them after the bailout, I voted for them last time and looking around now, I’ll vote for them again next time.

        Labour or the greens get my first pref, then them.

        So yes, I’m enabling them. I’m choosing to enable them.

  2. Bandy

    It sounds like she has no problem with them spending €300,000 of public money to find out why people don’t like them very much… someone call Alanis..

  3. ahjayzis

    My report’s a little more concise;

    Lazily and shamelessly aping UK Conservative Party strategy in almost every single way doesn’t work because Ireland isn’t England.


  4. PaddyM

    “To some extent, people didn’t really know why you would vote Fine Gael over perhaps other parties.”

    Ah no, I would have said that people, particularly those people who lived beyond upper-middle class Dublin, knew perfectly well why they *wouldn’t* vote Fine Gael. But when you dwell within a south Dublin bubble, and when you view things through the prism of a national media which also largely dwells within that south Dublin bubble, everything was in tip-top shape and FG were going to cruise to another overwhelming victory in spite of the “whingers”. There was no reason to think otherwise when you yourself weren’t at the sharp end of Troika/FG governance.

    Fine Gael did well within that south Dublin bubble. Everywhere else it went down in flames.

  5. whut

    Economy, Economy, Economy .. that’s all FGers fuppin talk about. It’s their one agenda, they ignore everything else, health, services etc. and to top if off, they haven’t even fixed the Economy, their one agenda.

  6. Barry the Hatchet

    It’s always striking when political parties do badly in elections and decide the problem was that people didn’t understand their message. Labour said the same thing after the last election. It never seems to occur to them that people heard their message loud and clear, but just didn’t want to buy the bullshit they were selling.

  7. Derek

    Am I supposed to be outraged at how political parties spend the money they get from the state? They’re not charitable organisations providing services to the needy. If it didn’t go into researching their image it would go on some other form of self-promotion. They’re hardly going to start a soup kitchen.

    1. Derek

      Well the constant references in the above piece to “state” funding is clearly meant to evoke a “how dare they spend the taxpayers money (i.e. our money) this way”.

      Otherwise they’d just say funding, not state funding or taxpayers money.

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