Claims of bullying in Waterford Fine Gael to be investigated - Varadkar

Party members in constituency have backed a no-confidence motion in TD John Deasy

A row has emerged between supporters of Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy (pictured)and party members in his  constituency. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos.

A row has emerged between supporters of Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy (pictured)and party members in his constituency. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos.

 

Allegations of bullying by Fine Gael members in Waterford will be investigated by the party in the coming weeks, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

A row has emerged between supporters of Fine Gael TD John Deasy, the Government’s special envoy to the US Congress, and party members in the constituency who on Monday voted in favour of a motion of no-confidence in the long-serving deputy.

Mr Deasy called for the entire Waterford Fine Gael organisation to be suspended and for party headquarters to intervene. The motion of no confidence in Mr Deasy was put forward by the brother of his constituency rival, Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey, who lost his Dáil seat in 2016.

Mr Coffey, from Portlaw, was selected as the sole Fine Gael candidate for the next general election at a selection convention in December 2017. Mr Deasy did not put his name forward at the convention but there was an expectation he might be added to the ticket by party headquarters.

“There has been a long-standing split in the organisation there and that has now come to a head and as party leader I intend to deal with that over the recess,” Mr Varadkar said.

He said he was not aware of any complaints previously brought forward on the matter.

“I know John Deasy quite well, I appointed him as representative in the United States. He hasn’t to date come to me with evidence of bullying in Waterford but if he is now making that allegation well then it has to be taken seriously and investigated.”

‘Strong’

Mr Varadkar said he wanted to bring the long-standing split to a conclusion.

“Just to point out, and I don’t think some of the coverage has necessarily reflected this, the local elections in Waterford were good for Fine Gael. We got 25 per cent of the vote...That means Waterford is a strong constituency for us, a place where we should hold the seat we have and we would like to challenge for a second seat.”

Mr Varadkar also said he was “all ears” in relation to claims from Eir that it could deliver the National Broadband Plan for €1 billion.

“If this can be done at a much lower cost to the Exchequer then I am all ears,” he said.

However, he said Eir had submitted an initial bid of nearly €3 billion and then pulled it “citing high risks and too much oversight”.

“So we need to assess whether what they are now saying is a genuine offer, whether it stacks up and whether a further procurement process would take a very long time, but we need to assess it properly with an open mind.”