‘I think it’s time Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael put their differences aside’
Delegates offer mixed views on grand coalition with Fianna Fáil
Lauren Lehane, Blarney, Cork. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
As Fine Gael politicians and supporters gathered at the City West Hotel in Dublin for the party’s Ardfheis, Marie O’Halloran asked delegates for their views on whether a general election should be called in the near future and if a grand coalition with Fianna Fáil is something that could happen thereafter.
LAUREN LEHANE (Cork North-Central)
“I don’t think we should have a general election right now. We should assess how people get on after the budget, a large spending one. The opinion polls are showing that people are actually quite okay with the Government at the moment, but I would say (it will be time) after Brexit, some time next year.
“I don’t think a grand coalition would happen because they have a lot of issues to work on. I think they need to try to work together a bit more like (Minister for Health) Simon Harris today coming up with a health package, putting all party politics aside and seeing what the people of the country really want. I think it’s time Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael put their differences aside.”
BRANDON MCEVOY (Cork East)
“I don’t think there’s a need for a general election at the moment. I think people are happy with the economy. I don’t think there should be a snap general election any time soon – maybe in a year’s time, a year and a half.
“Just like we previously did as a party, I think we would be open for a grand coalition again. Do I think it will happen? No, I don’t think it will. I feel the parties are growing a little more apart again. Fianna Fáil are always against going in anyway. The last time Enda (Kenny) put it on the table for them they said no and the next time I don’t think it’ll go either.”
MAURICE SKEHAN (Carlow-Kilkenny)
“I don’t think there should be an election until the end of next year, until Brexit is over especially, for stability and the economy. The Government needs the time to be able to concentrate on Brexit and running the country, instead of being worried about a general election.”
CONOR O’HANRAHAN (Carlow-Kilkenny)
“I think it (grand coalition) would be bad for the country in one way because you’ve no feasible opposition. You need a feasible opposition to keep the Government on their toes.
“A general election should be after the local and European elections and a referendum. If there was an election before the locals and Europeans or at the same time you’re going to be out all the time (canvassing) – January, February, March, April and May.
“I’d agree with a grand coalition. They’ve been doing it already effectively (in the confidence and supply agreement). If you put the Greens or Sinn Féin or Independents together everything could backfire again like it did in the ‘80s and ‘90s and a few years ago.”
MARIA WALSH (Galway West)
“I don’t think there should be a general election and I wouldn’t assume it would be for another while. And with the fallout from Brexit I’m hoping Fine Gael will continue on in what they’re doing in really making great change. I would hope for the people’s sake it doesn’t happen any time soon.
“I’m one of those who believe what’s best for the people should happen. But I’m feeling really confident that Fine Gael will be very strong in an election, so I can’t give a definite answer on a grand coalition.”
GERALDINE GREGAN (Clare)
“A general election should happen when it is necessary, when they can’t govern anymore. Good work is still being done so why break it when it’s not broken. We’re in the middle of Brexit, so not ‘til after some more work done on Brexit.
“I think that (grand coalition) mightn’t be so bad. The original slate was Civil War politics. We’ve moved on from that. There’s a lot in common between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. The only negative side I would see would be we need strong opposition.
“Britain are in a pure mess because they’ve no alternative. Fianna Fáil are the Opposition at the moment and you always need opposition.”