Fianna Fáil has stepped up its preparations for next year’s elections with the appointment of senior figures to oversee the local and European campaigns.
Its parliamentary party was told that Minister of State Jack Chambers has been appointed as Fianna Fáil’s director of local elections while Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has been appointed in the same role for the European elections.
Fianna Fáil is currently the largest party in local government but is expected to face a battle to retain that position given the consistently high level of support for Sinn Féin in recent opinion polls.
The party currently has two MEPs – Barry Andrews in Dublin and Billy Kelleher in Ireland South.
It will be keen to retain seats in these constituencies and expand their numbers to a seat in the Midlands-North West where the party failed to win a seat in 2019.
Both elections will be a major test for the party and leader Micheál Martin ahead of the next general election. That vote is not due until early 2025 but there has been speculation it could be called earlier, perhaps in late 2024.
Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s parliamentary party meetings were briefed on the latest unemployment figures and how the rate of 3.8 per cent is the lowest in the history of the State.
Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney told the Fine Gael meeting that more than 700,000 jobs had been created since 2011 and Ireland had the fastest growing economy in the EU during that time.
Tensions were raised within the Coalition last week after three Fine Gael junior ministers wrote an article proposing a €1,000 tax break for middle income workers, sparking anger within Fianna Fáil.
Mr Coveney told the Fine Gael meeting that “a good budget” could be achieved with Government colleagues working together.
However, he also told party colleagues they should be “comfortable and consistent” on Fine Gael’s approach to lowering taxes and putting money back in people’s pockets.
It is understood he referenced his party’s long-standing proposals to increase the threshold for people hitting the higher rate of income tax to €50,000 over the course of a number of budgets.
Dublin Fingal TD Alan Farrell is understood to have proposed that Fine Gael hold a special tax forum to examine proposals.
The forum would hear from experts and feed into the party’s policy-making in the area.
Fine Gael is to have a meeting about its approach to the budget on June 14th.