Lucinda the star of the moment but Reform Alliance’s larger purpose remains a mystery

Former Fine Gael junior minister in combative mood despite the acclaim

Lucinda Creighton at the Reform Alliance conference at the RDS over the weekend. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Lucinda Creighton at the Reform Alliance conference at the RDS over the weekend. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Mon, Jan 27, 2014, 01:00

A grand day out. But it went a bit sour in the end. Lucinda Creighton said she was very happy, but she didn’t look or sound it. The woman who is not the leader of a phantom party appeared oddly defensive and piqued when she spoke to the media immediately after the Reform Alliance’s first major rally. With applause still echoing around the hall, she had to make her way through a throng of well-wishers and admirers before she reached the press.

Clearly, Lucinda Creighton was the star of this show.

Perhaps later, upon reflection, she and her colleagues may come to the conclusion that their rally in the RDS didn’t provide the sort of positive affirmation needed to take the political party plunge.

But that’s for later. On Saturday afternoon, the former junior minister could congratulate herself on having come through a very successful day. She was the woman of the moment. But Lucinda couldn’t turn her thoughts away from the media treatment she has received in the last while.

She reserved most of her ire for The Irish Times, suggesting we have it in for her because of her pro-life views. But she also seemed annoyed by the general coverage. You could detect the hurt in her voice.

“The first stage is when people laugh at you and completely dismiss you. The next stage is when they start to sneer at you and try to undermine you – and we’ve had plenty of that in the last few weeks – and we expect it to continue,” she said. “But I suppose it’s a sign that people are a little bit worried.”

Therein lies the problem for Creighton and her fellow members of the RA. People aren’t worried anymore.

Her former colleagues in Fine Gael may have been concerned for a while, particularly given the amount of publicity the TD for Dublin South East is able to attract. But not now.

A supporter asked her if “the established parties” see the Reform Alliance as a threat.

“I think there’s always resistance to change: whether it’s from political parties, the establishment – right across the board, media, vested interests, government . . .” Lucinda replied, adding: “I mean, it’s what we expect and we won’t be cowed down or deterred.”

But cowed down and deterred from doing what? At the end of a long day of familiar talk about reform, we were none the wiser about the Alliance and where it might be going.

Edition of Frontline
Their event was like an extended edition of Frontline, with three different panels addressing three very broad subjects followed by contributions from members of the audience.

There was a huge curiosity factor about this conference. The size and mood of the crowd would reveal a lot about the Reform Alliance’s prospects.

Would it match the fervour once generated by the Progressive Democrats back in the day? Huge crowds at their meetings – places such as Dublin’s National Stadium packed to the rafters with wildly enthusiastic members of middle Ireland. There was an energy and optimism about those early days.