Byelection tweet criticised by Fine Gael Senators at party meeting

Doherty reported to have said she was ‘ashamed’ of polling day social media post

Senator Regina Doherty is said to have been one of a number of people at the meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday evening to have criticised Sinn Féin Tweet on day of byelection last week.

Senator Regina Doherty is said to have been one of a number of people at the meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday evening to have criticised Sinn Féin Tweet on day of byelection last week.

 

Fine Gael Senators have criticised the party’s last-ditch attempt to mobilise its vote in last week’s byelection with a tweet warning supporters of a big Sinn Féin turnout.

With less than an hour to go until polls in Dublin Bay South closed, Fine Gael posted on Twitter: “Warning. Big Sinn Féin turnout. Don’t let Sinn Féin in by staying at home. Vote Geoghegan.”

The post was widely derided on social media and criticised by the Opposition.

It’s understood that Senators Regina Doherty and John Cummins took issue with the tweet at this evening’s meeting of Fine Gael’s parliamentary party.

Sources said Ms Doherty, who grew up in Ballymun and Finglas, pointed to her own family background and how they were all staunch Fine Gael supporters.

She told the meeting she was “ashamed” of the message the tweet sent to working class voters and argued that the party had let itself down.

Waterford-based Senator Cummins who was said to have been supportive of how most of the byelection campaign played out but he criticised the Twitter post.

He said Fine Gael need to learn from it as be made the case that the party should be seeking support in all parts of the community.

After the election result, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar defended the party’s performance pointing to how its candidate Cllr James Geoghegan had essentially matched the combined support former TDs Eoghan Murphy and Kate O’Connell received in last year’s General election.

Speaking earlier at this evening’s meeting, Mr Varadkar said Mr Geoghegan was a “great candidate with a bright future” and he praised Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris - who served as director of elections - for what he said had been a great campaign.

Separately, on Covid, Mr Varadkar told colleagues that the plan is to weather the “rising Delta wave” across the country.

He said this would be done through accelerating the vaccination programme and leaving some restrictions in place while re-emphasising public health messages.

Mr Varadkar also said the Government decision on indoor dining would be reviewed in September.