Fianna Fáil annual church-gate collection exceeds expectations


FIANNA FÁIL’S annual church-gate collection in rural constituencies last Sunday surpassed expectations, a number of party TDs have claimed. The funds collected from Mass-goers, which are sent to party headquarters in Dublin, were up on last year’s amount, deputies said.

Cork East TD Ned O’Keeffe admitted he was surprised by the response. “I was amazed to tell you the truth. It was good right across both rural and urban [churches]. There might be a certain amount of Ned O’Keeffe popularity in that. It was beyond my wildest dreams,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

Galway East TD Michael Kitt also confirmed the amount collected in his constituency was greater than last year. “The reports were very good from every place that did the collection. There was no one abusing us. People were asking questions alright. Obviously the old-age pensions came up and I wasn’t surprised at that,” Mr Kitt said.

“The amount was up. I think people understand once a year Fianna Fáil has a collection. For years this is a tradition, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have their collections in May.”

A Fine Gael spokesman said church-gate collections would take place in some constituencies this weekend. The money was not sent to headquarters but was “used for local political purposes”, he added.

FF Longford-Westmeath TD Mary O’Rourke said: “We’re up on last year. There’s not one recorded incident of abuse.” She said Garda permits were always sought to allow for such collections.

However, callers to Joe Duffy’s Livelineon RTÉ Radio 1 this week complained about people collecting for Fianna Fáil outside churches. A woman who said she attended St Mary’s Church in Athlone said: “I was outraged to see Mary O’Rourke and some familiar faces to me collecting for Fianna Fáil. And I just said, ‘oh my goodness do they actually think the people of Ireland are that naive’ . . . the vast majority of the people that I saw were not contributing. I had to restrain myself really because I had my daughter with me . . . from speaking my mind . . . if I had won the Lotto I wouldn’t have given one cent to Fianna Fáil.”