James Reilly insists he is best person for role of deputy leader

John Deasy says TDs will not take electionadvice from someone who failed to hold seat

Senator James Reilly has said he intends to win back his Dáil seat. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Senator James Reilly has said he intends to win back his Dáil seat. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Senator James Reilly has insisted he is the best person for the role of deputy leader of Fine Gael and that he intends to win back his Dáil seat.

Dr Reilly’s controversial reappointment to the role has come in for criticism. At the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting on Wednesday Dr Reilly’s reappointment was questioned, although Mr Kenny did not respond to the questions.

Waterford TD John Deasy criticised the appointment of Dr Reilly and said it angered rank and file party members. Kildare North TD Bernard Durkan said the position of deputy leader was a “side issue” but Mr Deasy disagreed with him.

Mr Deasy said members would not take advice on how to win Dáil seats from Dr Reilly, someone who failed to get re-elected himself.

Dr Reilly expressed his frustration at Mr Deasy’s comments and also said his position was being used by some members to attack Mr Kenny. He said he would not be standing down as deputy leader.

On Thursday Dr Reilly said it was important that there was a “steady hand at the tiller,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

“I did this job before. I will have more time to do it now [as a senator]. There is more to it than just going around the country. I am not going to be just giving advice to members, I will be talking and taking advice and bringing it back to headquarters.”

Dr Reilly said he would then be able to see what needs to be done to strengthen the party before the next general election.

“The bottom line is that the Taoiseach has confidence in me and feels I’m the best person to do the job.”

The former minister said he would be happy to hear from party members and to address concerns they may have.

“I am looking forward to a united party going forward into the next election.”

He said the Fine Gael party was like a family. There might be arguments at home, but outside there was a united front “we will face the world together”.