Enda Kenny ‘jokes’ about Michael Lowry rejoining Fine Gael
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny referred to Independent TD Michael Lowry rejoining the party at a recent birthday celebration for environment spokesman Phil Hogan in Kilkenny, sources at the event said.
A number of attendees quoted Mr Kenny as saying: “Is that a membership application form I see in deputy Lowry’s top pocket?”. Sources differed as to whether or not he was joking, however.
Mr Hogan, who was born on July 4th 1960, marked his 50th birthday with some 150 guests in The Corner House in Bennettsbridge last Friday night. Mr Kenny spoke at the event, referring to Mr Lowry, who was also present. Mr Hogan and Mr Lowry are personal friends.
Deputy leader and health spokesman Dr James Reilly, who attended the party, said: “I wouldn’t take it too seriously. We’ve an excellent representative down there in [Tipperary North TD] Noel Coonan. That’s not to say we won’t always be looking for more seats.”
Another guest, speaking on the basis of anonymity, said: “Was it half in joke, whole in earnest? He shouldn’t have said it. Some people laughed but people will do what they think they should do. Some people were a bit miffed.” A third attendee, who did not want to be named said the remark could not be taken seriously: it was delivered in a jocose manner on the spur of the moment.
Mr Lowry, a former Fine Gael minister who was investigated by the Moriarty Tribunal, said he did not want to comment. The Tipperary North TD, who has consistently backed the Government since 2007, voted against the Coalition for the first time a fortnight ago over the legislation to ban stag hunting. He resigned from the Fine Gael parliamentary party in 1997.
Among those attending the Kilkenny event were a number of TDs: the party’s chief whip Paul Kehoe, Bernard Durkan and the party’s new community, equality and Gaeltacht affairs spokesman Frank Feighan. Seanad leader Frances Fitzgerald and Senators Paddy Burke, Paul Coghlan, Paudie Coffey, John-Paul Phelan and Maurice Cummins were also present. Mairead McGuinness, MEP for Ireland East, also attended, along with local councillors and party members.
A Fine Gael spokesman insisted Mr Kenny’s remark about Mr Lowry was not to be taken seriously. “It was a light-hearted remark given the circumstances. He makes similar light-hearted remarks to other disaffected Government-supporting deputies, most recently Noel O’Flynn,” the spokesman said.