FG internal report likely to suggest structural change
Internal inquiry has heard strong criticism of how general campaign was run
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny will be under pressure to implement major structural changes in the party on foot of the internal inquiry’s recommendations. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg
Sweeping changes in the Fine Gael organisation are expected to follow an inquiry into the party’s disappointing performance in the general election.
While the inquiry has not completed its work, it has heard strong criticism of how the campaign was run with a particular focus on the extent of power and responsibility given to unelected officials.
Party leader Enda Kenny will be under pressure to implement major structural changes in the party on foot of the recommendations.
The inquiry, chaired by Marion Coy, former president of the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, will not be completed for another month or six weeks. Ms Coy has interviewed people at all levels of the party, assisted in her inquiries by six members of the parliamentary party.
They have travelled around the country and spoken to defeated candidates as well as TDs and senators. Members of the organisation have also participated in the review.
Two of the six TDs, Patrick O’Donovan and Helen McEntee, have been promoted as junior Ministers and will take no further part in the inquiry, but the other four – Alan Farrell, Maria Bailey, Kate O’Connell and Peter Burke – will continue with the process.
A number of Fine Gael TDs have openly voiced their dissatisfaction with the way the election was run questioning what they regard as the undue influence of senior officials and advisers. Many TDs have told the inquiry of their desire to see a big a shift in power from party officials and advisers to elected representatives.
Separately, the Fine Gael national executive will also compile a report on the election performance based on reports from the 40 constituency organisations.
Meanwhile, it is expected that Mr Kenny will attempt to buttress the party at constituency level in his 11 nominees to the Seanad which are expected to be announced this week.
Michelle Mulherin, who lost her Mayo Dáil seat in the general election, is regarded as a certainty for appointment to the Upper House; and Ray Butler, who lost his seat in Meath West, may join her.
Four former ministers, James Reilly, Paudie Coffey, Tom Hayes and Jimmy Deenihan, are also in with a strong chance. Frank Feighan – who stood down as party TD for Roscommon – is also tipped for elevation as is Jim D’Arcy from Louth.
Meanwhile, Independent Clare TD Dr Michael Harty has clarified his position on the Government, saying he would not vote against it on key issues such as the budgets or confidence motions.
Dr Harty said media reports that he had “withdrawn” support from the Government did not reflect his position.
“I voted for Enda Kenny to be elected Taoiseach and to allow a Fine Gael minority Government to take office as that was the only viable government possible,” he said.
“I never gave unqualified support to the Government, so there is nothing to withdraw. I was then and remain an Independent TD.”
The Clare-based GP said his position was similar to the arrangement with Fianna Fáil.
“I will take each issue as it comes and decide. But I will not be voting to bring the Government down on crucial votes like the budget, a confidence motion or a Cabinet reshuffle.”