Flannery decision attempt to halt controversy for FG, Rehab

Resignation comes days after revelation the ex-Fine Gael strategist received thousands to lobby Government

 A file image of Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Frank Flannery. Photograph: Eric Luke/The	Irish Times

A file image of Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Frank Flannery. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 18:25

The resignation of Frank Flannery from the board of Rehab and numerous positions within Fine Gael is an effort by the veteran advisor to draw halt the controversy for both party and charity.

The sequence of events since The Irish Times broke the story on Saturday of Mr Flannery getting paid thouands by the charity to lobby the Government accelerated today.

It became evident Fine Gael was unhappy with the Rehab controversy arriving at the door of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Mr Flannery’s position in Fine Gael depended on the attitude of Mr Kenny, and the Taoiseach is entering a period where he would not have wanted the Rehab controversy dogging him.

He is in Manchester today, and Downing Street tomorrow for a meeting with British prime minister David Cameron before travelling to United States later in the week.

The St Patrick’s meeting with US president Barack Obama takes place on Friday, and you can bet Mr Kenny and his advisors were horrified at the idea of Mr Flannery and Rehab following them around the globe.

It was reported that Mr Kenny and Mr Flannery chatted in the past few days, and it can only be imagined what was said.

What is clear now is that Mr Kenny will not be asked questions about Mr Flannery from now on.

The role of the Labour Party is also of interest. One of the party’s junior ministers, Kathleen Lynch, this morning said Mr Flannery’s position was no longer tenable.

Then Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn outlined how Mr Flannery would informally approach him around Leinster House to discuss matters of concern to Rehab.

Ironically, it was in the run up to the local and European elections in 2009 that Mr Flannery was last at the centre of controversy, when he raised the possibility of a Fine Gael-Sinn Fein coalition.

That gaffe led Enda Kenny to sack his advisor as director of elections for the subsequent general election, which took place in February 2011.

The position was taken up by Phil Hogan, who is also director of elections for the upcoming l European contests.

Mr Flannery was director for the local elections, as well as Director of Organisation for Fine Gael, a position he also held back in 2009.

The Rehab controversy has been dragging on since January, when Angela Kerins declined to reveal her salary when asked on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

The weekend revelations in The Irish Times brought the controversy right to the top of Fine Gael.

Mr Flannery and the Taoiseach have been close associates for years, and Mr Flannery wrote the blueprint for rescuing Fine Gael after the 2002 general election, a process which ultimately contributed to triumph in 2011.

However, he will play no role as the party gears up for this year’s contest.

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