‘Leo’s okay, he’ll be grand – give him time, but he’s very capable’

Fine Gael members on Varadkar, Kenny, elections, abortion, Fianna Fáil and Halligan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. “Leo’s new, vibrant, really taking on social media,” said Conor Murphy (Cork North-Central). Photograph: Aurore Belot/AFP/Getty Images

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. “Leo’s new, vibrant, really taking on social media,” said Conor Murphy (Cork North-Central). Photograph: Aurore Belot/AFP/Getty Images

 

Lucy O’Shea (Kerry)

[Former taoiseach] Enda [Kenny] was fantastic but I think [Taoiseach] Leo [Varadkar]’s going to take a different direction.

I hope Leo will not be thinking about an election for a long time, because I don’t want to go canvassing for a while. There will probably be another budget out of this Government, and maybe after that.

Rural Ireland is a big challenge. I come from a small town in Kerry and we haven’t really seen the recovery as much as the bigger towns. There has to be a bigger focus on getting more jobs into smaller areas.

I hope the [abortion] referendum passes and you have to be very careful not to campaign aggressively. It’s something that affects everyone differently and there are some people who might have extreme views about it but they have a duty now to have a good and positive campaign.

Conor Murphy (Cork North-Central)

Enda and Leo are from two different generations. Leo’s new, vibrant, really taking on social media, trying to bring in the younger people and showing them what politics is. He has revitalised the party, freshened it up a small bit.

The Coalition is working well and a lot longer than what people thought. I think it will last the three years. I could see this Government lasting its course, surprising a lot of people, myself as well.

Credit is due to Fianna Fáil because it’s a tough position for them to be in with the confidence-and-supply arrangement. They’re keeping their side of the bargain. I think a coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil should happen at some stage. None of us remember the Civil War anymore. We’re both on the same thinking. We’re both on the right.

Brexit is a big issue now. What would be the news if we didn’t have Brexit and if Trump never happened?

Pat Lyons (Galway East)

Enda was a leader at a time when we needed statesmanship to bring respectability back to our country and I think he was the right man at the time. Leo is a new generation, technology, sharper.

His honeymoon period has been extended, deservedly so because he has opened up the whole approach to government and is communicating wisely.

Everything is going well in coalition so long as the price isn’t too high and it could be in the last year or two.

Fianna Fáil have been honourable. Sinn Féin stayed on sidelines. They didn’t want any government either here or in the North. So they’re not players. There should be an election in about three years’ time.

We need on abortion to have a respectful, not an emotive debate led by factions – the church on one hand and liberals on the other.

Moira Finnegan (Longford-Westmeath)

Enda and Leo, completely different people, probably equally effective in their own way. Leo’s okay. He’ll be grand. Give him time, but he’s very capable.

The arrangement is working because Fianna Fáil certainly don’t want an election. The country doesn’t need an election, so you have to put up with what you’ve got. The people voted, they didn’t give anybody an overall majority, so you have to go with it. Sinn Féin are against everything, they’re for nothing. I wouldn’t see a coalition with them working at the moment.

Housing and health are two of the biggest challenges. Fine Gael is dealing with abortion. They’ve giving people a free vote on it. I’d hate to be drawing up the referendum question. I don’t think we should have abortion on demand, certainly not. I don’t think that would even get passed.

Yvonne McWey (Dublin Bay North)

Very different backgrounds, very different outlooks but there is a positivity around both Leo and Enda and a can-do attitude, an optimism that both have in common.

The arrangement with Fianna Fáil, again it’s pragmatism. If the differences became irreconcilable and it was to harm the interests of the country then an election should be called. Now wouldn’t be the right time but the whole political landscape is changing and we just need to evolve with that and be ready and proactive when we do need to change.

I’ve a personal view on abortion that I’d rather not share but I think it does need to be inclusive, consultative, well informed and not bound by any constituent part.

Colin Grimes (Sligo-Leitrim)

I wasn’t sure about coalition because I would have had some doubts about Shane Ross and John Halligan in particular but they have taken to it fairly well and Finian McGrath, [Kevin] Boxer Moran and [Seán] Canney, they are very steady Ministers.

The arrangement with Fianna Fáil is working okay but some of the ones would be easier to work with. Michael McGrath would be steady enough but Billy Kelleher and [Dara] Calleary in Mayo and Willie O’Dea are too used to knocking the Government that they’re incapable of trying to support what the Government is doing.

There’s stuff that’s been put on the long finger because you can’t rely on Fianna Fáil, in particular. The election will probably have to be next year, probably before summer.

I’m local here and Brexit is a big issue for me. I used to be a cross-Border worker but with Brexit starting and the currency slipping I had to come back across the Border in my employment.