Dukes considers leaving politics after defeat


Fine Gael’s agriculture spokesman, Mr Alan Dukes, has confirmed today he is considering retiring from public life.

The 57-year-old former party leader, who lost his seat in Kildare South, was one of a number of party front benchers who suffered shock defeats in a day he likened to the St Valentine’s Day Massacre for the party.

In an interview on News Talk Radio 106, Mr Dukes said he had a number of other interests he wanted to pursue and that these plans had been brought forward.

Mr Dukes said two factors overtook him in his constituency; a very efficient Fianna Fail campaign machine (which resulted in two seats) and the move of the "soft Fine Gael vote that went to the PDs".

This voter shift was to prevent a single party Government and also because the local PD candidate went for a kind of "Gombeen politics", he said.

Mr Dukes said the Progressive Democrats candidate in Kildare South, Mr John Dardis, had run a local campaign trying to persuade people a motorway wouldn’t be built when the rest of the Government wanted it built.

Seeking to explain the collapse in the national Fine Gael vote, Mr Dukes said voters had come to the conclusion Fine Gael would not be in a position to form a Government and therefore lacked a clear alternative.

Although Fine Gael had tried to provide that option, Mr Dukes said the Labour Party had a different tactic, one that had "backfired", he said. "They didn’t make anything like the gains they had expected to make".

Mr Dukes remained defiant that Fine Gael could recover from the disastrous result of the election to the 29th Dail, after an initially difficult period.

"Lest we get overwhelmed by interpretations, Fine Gael is still a larger party than any other party in opposition, it has a considerable amount of young talent, although unfortunately we have lost some of that, it has a good organisation . . ."

Mr Dukes refused to be drawn on his preferences for the new party leader, saying any ideas he had he would share privately with his friends within the party.