Healy-Rae accuses FG of ‘looking down its nose’ at him in reports

Joan Burton defends Eamon Gilmore over FG claims he could lose Dáil seat

Michael Healy-Rea: report said he hid ‘behind the veneer of a friendly/simple country yokel’ but was ‘unbeatable electorally’. It claimed he had a ‘vicious temper . . . he is not like his more collegial father in that regard.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Michael Healy-Rea: report said he hid ‘behind the veneer of a friendly/simple country yokel’ but was ‘unbeatable electorally’. It claimed he had a ‘vicious temper . . . he is not like his more collegial father in that regard.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae has accused Fine Gael of “looking down their nose” at him after party strategy documents accused him of hiding behind the “veneer of a friendly/simple country yokel”.

Tánaiste Joan Burton defended Eamon Gilmore after the documents said the loss of his seat would benefit Fine Gael.

The documents, revealed in The Irish Times this week, outline the strengths and weaknesses of Fine Gael TDs, Senators and Dáil candidates as well as assessing their rivals. The reports were compiled by constituency committees for the party’s national executive as part of preparations for the next general election.

One submission from Kerry said Mr Healy-Rae hid “behind the veneer of a friendly/simple country yokel” but was “unbeatable electorally”. It claimed he had a “vicious temper”, adding: “He is not like his more collegial father in that regard.”

‘Big opinion of themselves’

The reports submitted this week cover Dublin South-Central, Wicklow, Dún Laoghaire, Galway West, Tipperary, Mayo, Cavan-Monaghan, Cork North-West, Kildare South, Laois, Clare and Kerry.

The disclosure of their details has caused controversy and sources in the party said reports for the remaining constituencies were now unlikely to be completed.

The Kerry report said Labour’s Arthur Spring was “goosed” and “would be very lucky to hold on”.

“He is dejected himself. He will most likely lose his seat. If he survives, it will be due to an earthquake result elsewhere in the constituency.”

Dún Laoghaire, a four-seater constituency, has two Fine Gael TDs in Ceann Comhairle Séan Barrett and Mary Mitchell O’Connor, along with former tánaiste Mr Gilmore and People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett.

The local Fine Gael branch says one of the party’s strengths is Mr Gilmore’s weakness. “Gilmore is weak and may lose his seat, which would serve FG,” it says.

Speaking in Berlin yesterday, Ms Burton said Mr Gilmore “stands head and shoulders above the others and I would be very confident in Eamon Gilmore being returned as the deputy for Dún Laoghaire”.

The Dún Laoghaire document also suggested a battle over the Fine Gael general election ticket was likely and suggested Ms Mitchell O’Connor could lose at the selection convention.

In Galway West, a four-candidate strategy was recommended, including Senator Hildegarde Naughton.

She was described as “weak but provides gender balance and a strong image which can be used to target other female candidates”.