Fine Gael Senator proposes ‘positivity seminar’ to boost party morale

Some within Fine Gael believe the Taoiseach may go to the country within weeks if a Brexit extension or deal is achieved

A Fine Gael Senator has called for a seminar within the party to discuss "positivity" after a private meeting in which TDs and Senators discussed morale amongst the ranks.

At a meeting of the parliamentary party on Wednesday night – which was described as "passionate" – Minister for Health Simon Harris delivered a rallying call amid claims that the party is "downtrodden".

“Basically he said we have to push back against any negativity. He gets the sense that people feel deflated at a time when we need to get stuck in. He said he felt people weren’t feeling very positive. He was talking about the party,” one source who was present said.

“He seemed to be worried about the narrative, that perhaps there is a defeatist narrative growing around the party. The message was that it was time to stand up and get on with the job and be positive, that we have to win the byelections.”

Another source present said some within Fine Gael were focused on negative aspects of the party’s performance.

“We are always talking ourselves down. We buy into the negative stuff even when we know it’s not necessarily well-placed. Thing have gone wrong, but a lot has gone right,” the source said.

“Others in the meeting said Ministers and party members were not working together well. The point that Simon was trying to get across was that the atmosphere seems downtrodden, that there was nothing but negative narratives when we actually have a good story to tell.”

Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone is understood to have proposed what was described after the meeting as a "positivity seminar".

It is believed the seminar would focus on selecting more positive messages for the party to send out.

Political speculation

It comes amid political speculation about a November election date. Some within Fine Gael believe that the Taoiseach may go to the country within weeks if a Brexit extension or deal is achieved.

Speaking on Friday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin poured cold water on the idea.

“I’ve said before that there will be no election this side of Christmas. As far as I’m concerned my position hasn’t changed.”

In a letter last month, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told Fine Gael TDs, Senators and MEPs to get ready for the four byelections being held at the end of November.

He said only one of the seats was guaranteed for Fine Gael, and told members that while it was “very rare” for parties in government to win byelections, he believed they had good candidates.

The Taoiseach said any success for the Fine Gael party “is largely up to all of us”.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times