Exactly where on the political spectrum will Lucinda Creighton’s new party come to rest?
Comparisons with the now defunct Progressive Democrats are inevitable, but Creighton yesterday refused to accept the centre-right, fiscally conservative tag.
“I consider the old political paradigms of left and right to be completely redundant now,” she declared. “As far as I’m concerned, the right-wing model of an overriding free market has completely failed and, equally, I don’t think I need to explain how socialism has failed in the latter part of the last century.”
Creighton is undoubtedly correct in her analysis that the Irish political landscape has “changed entirely” in recent times.
With characteristic chutzpah, she is thinking big and hoping to capitalise on the current mood of instability and disillusionment with established parties. “We are hugely ambitious. We believe that the sky is the limit in terms of what can be achieved.”
She expressed the hope that the new party could articulate a clear vision, which would excite people and engage them.
Eddie Hobbs mentioned "crushing rates of taxation, particularly on work" and acknowledged there would be an attempt to label the new group as a low-tax party.
“The principle we’re adopting on taxation is that tax should be set at an optimum level in an economy, depending on where it is in the economic cycle,” he said.
Minimum lifestyle standard
He also spoke about achieving what he called a “minimum lifestyle standard”, or MLS. The target was “likely to be in a median in the range of lifestyle budgets already identified by social advocates”, he said.
Clearly, the communication of these policy areas will need to be finessed in the coming months.
Creighton forfeited both her ministerial office and parliamentary party membership when she defied Fine Gael on abortion legislation in July 2013.
The former minister of state for European affairs, who represents Dublin South East in the Dáil, objected to the inclusion of a suicide clause in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
She had appealed for a relaxation of the “archaic and out-of-date” whip system, but this was firmly ruled out by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Her position on abortion, which has changed since her student days, was influenced by speaking to friends who had a "negative" experience of termination, she told The Irish Times in the aftermath of her departure from ministerial office.
She became the leading light of the Reform Alliance, a group of former Fine Gael parliamentarians expelled from the parliamentary party for voting against the whip.
One prominent member, Denis Naughten, who left Fine Gael over a local hospital issue in his constituency, had already ruled out joining a new party.
However, Senator Paul Bradford, Creighton's husband, is expected to come on board, along with fellow Reform Alliance members Terence Flanagan and Billy Timmins, although the latter renewed his membership of Fine Gael last April.
The position of Senator Fidelma HealyEames remains unclear, while Deputy Peter Mathews is not expected to participate in the new party.
Creighton, who is 34 and a qualified barrister from Claremorris, Co Mayo, became the youngest member of Dublin City Council in 2004.
First elected to the Dáil in 2007, she took the seat of the then Progressive Democrats leader and former minister for justice Michael McDowell.
She opposed Kenny’s leadership of Fine Gael in 2010, playing a central role in the unsuccessful heave. However, Kenny appointed her a junior minister the following year.
Widely perceived as having thrived in the European portfolio, she took a lead role in the Government campaign on the fiscal treaty referendum and was a key figure in Ireland’s EU presidency.