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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: June 16, 2010 @ 8:19 am

    Fine Gael – where both sides are at now…

    Harry McGee

    Last night I had calls and texts from both camps claiming they had the numbers.

    Both claimed they were in the 30s with the other side lagging behind.

    There are over 10 fence-sitters or waverers (or people who won’t say what side they are on).

    The fact that it’s a secret ballot makes it problematic. A few have declared publicly for one candidate but the other side believe they have them in the bag, albeit in secret.

    So here’s where I see it now.


    Phil Hogan; Joe Carey; Bernard Allen; Pj Sheahan; Dinny McGinley; James Reilly; Alan Shatter; Catherine Byrne; Sean Barrett; Paul Connaughton; Jimmy Deenihan; Tom Sheahan; Dan Neville; James Bannon; John O’Mahony; Enda Kenny; Michael Ring; Shane McEntee; Frank Feighan; John Perry; Paul Kehoe; Liam Twomey; Paddy Burke; Frances Fitzgerald; Joe O’Reilly; Ciaran Cannon; Maurice Cummins; Jim Higgins; Mairead McGuinness; Sean Kelly; Gay Mitchell

    Total: 31


    Bernard Durkan; Charlie Flanagan; Paudie Coffey;

    Total: 3



    Michael Creed; Simon Coveney; Joe McHugh; Richard Bruton; Olivia Mitchell; Lucinda Creighton; Brian Hayes; Leo Varadkar; Ulick Burke; Olwyn Enright; Michael Noonan; Fergus O’Dowd; Damien English; Denis Naughten; Tom Hayes; John Deasy; Michael D’Arcy; Billy Timmins; Andrew Doyle; Paul Bradford; John Paul Phelan; Eugene Regan; Nicky McFadden.

    Total: 23


    Jim O’Keeffe; Pat Breen; Paschal Donohoe;

    Total: 3



    Seymour Crawford; David Stanton; Deirdre Clune; Terence Flanagan; Padraic McCormack; Kieran O’Donnell; Noel Coonan; Jerry Buttimer; Fidelma Healy Eames; Paul Coghlan


    On that basis Kenny is a little ahead though both sides claim they are ‘turning’ key parliamentary party members or have some of the waverers ‘in the bag’.

    He will also have a front bench of ‘substitutes’ that will inspire the same confidence as Justin McCarthy’s second string Limerick hurling team facing into their Munster championship encounter next weekend.

    The lobbying today is going to be fierce. At this moment in time, I put Kenny marginally in front. However, he’s going to have to win big if he’s going to survive. A narrow win for him could mean a fresh heave against him whenever the next opinion poll is published.

    • Michael says:

      I believe Seymour Crawford press released in favour of Kenny at the weekend, but of course things could well have changed since.

      The other question (other than the number( is, if Kenny loses will anyone else put themselves forward in a leadership election, other than Richard Bruton. Phil Hogan I could imagine would put himself forward as a standard bearer for the Kenny supporters.

    • Elaine Byrne says:

      Sounds about right Harry, good analysis. No one wins out of this; a marginal victory for either side will not be a victory.

      If FG is serious about being in government they will have sort themselves out first before they can entertain the idea of going into coalition with the Labour party. If they can’t agree internally within the party how the hell are they going to negotiate tough public spending cuts with a coalition partner they fundamentally disagree with on so many areas?

      Real leadership within FG will sort this out before it comes to a vote.

    • fin says:

      If Richard Bruton has no confidence in Enda Kenny, how can he seek re election under the fine gael
      banner in or before 2012.

    • Harry McGee says:

      Actually, I’ve been thinking about this since morning. Sometimes we get handed down little pearls of wisdom and go with them though there is not really a rational basis for it. I’m doing an analysis piece for tomorrow and one of the questions about which I’m pondering is the margin of victory for Kenny.
      The wisdom goes that Bruton only needs to win by one although Kenny needs to win big. On reflection, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. If Kenny wins, he wins, though a bigger margin will help.
      But he can argue he survived and came through despite everything they threw at him.

    • Elaine Byrne says:

      Harry, have a look at what Prof Michael Gallagher is saying about the FG contest over on http://www.politicalreform.ie
      Eoin O’Malley has some interesting comments underneath.

    • Michael says:

      Charlie Flanagan out of the veering-Kenny column and into the strong anti-Kenny column. He has announced his support for Bruton.

    • glenard says:

      We will have an election very soon and parties need to start to put their plans in place. Looking forward, while a good team will be important who will lead the country will be the focus. Kenny, Gilmore or Bruton?
      Who is likely to have the respect of the population at large after the election? And from a Fine Gael outlook which one would Gilmore most likely accept being number 2 to? Finally, the challenge for the next five years will be the economy, who is best equipped to handle it? The answer is Richard Bruton.

      The world war was Churchill’s time, peace was not. In a different time Kenny could have made it, but times have changed, this time belongs to the likes of Burton and Lenihan .

      If Lenihan’s health improves, and I hope it does , Fianna Fail will be having a little push of their own.

    • Seamus says:

      At least Bruton is willing to abandon tribal politics for the sake of the country– which is a concept that Fianna Fail would never understand: Country First.

    • Vincent Callanan says:

      If Richard Bruton is elected leader of Fine Gael, he will enjoy an opinion poll “bounce” which will further enhance his already-high popularity. The timing may be such that this same momentum which polls have a habit of creating will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and he will be well-placed come election time. But will the party’s vote actually increase significantly on Richard’s coat-tails? All politics is local but organisation and unity is everything. Enda Kenny himself is testament to this. Fine Gael has an inevitable vote ceiling in a competitive and shallow marketplace. But serious disunity will decimate the party in an election. Richard Bruton does not seem at first glance to be natural leadership material although he may have a little of that Sarkozy je ne sais quoi. He seems to be a decent inoffensive type but that is probably a liability; he definitely has the pedigree; he has the knowledge; he has the experience; he has a wise older brother strategising behind the scenes; he may be lucky; and he may grow into the role. But his leadership will have no chance of uniting the party after this debacle. Kenny and Bruton might have been a dream ticket (Irish-style) like Blair and Brown in the early days – even to the extent of placing both heads on campaign posters. Why this has not happened may be down to personality differences but it is more likely due to some combination of Kenny’s insecurities and Bruton’s ambition. Instead, we have had something more akin to the Blair/Brown ticket at the end of the Blair era. And the fallback Kenny/Hogan “ticket” is far too rural-based to appeal to a predominantly urban electorate. The only decent outcome for Fine Gael will be to relegate both Kenny and Bruton to senior shadow posts and choose a different leader. But there are not many good alternatives with ability and consumer appeal. Mairead McGuinness stands out in this regard even if she is an MEP – but there are ways and means. McGuinness would have wide appeal in spite of her rural/farming roots. She would definitely electrify the party and the country especially if Bruton and Kenny submit to their destinies and do what they have always done best. And a McGuinness/Shatter ticket would give the party leadership the necessary degree of experience, polish and demographic balance. People are looking for “change”. They are not quite sure what this means. But they want anything but the same old tired heads. McGuinness/Shatter hits the G-spot!!!

    • this is a joke for all of us plain people. i have no confidence in ff and now i have no confidence in fg; as for lab , they are the sky news of irish politics

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