Thursday 30 March 2017

Former Fine Gael campaign chief launches stinging critique of Government's re-election bid

Former Fine Gael election campaign planner Frank Flannery Credit: Gerry Monney
Former Fine Gael election campaign planner Frank Flannery Credit: Gerry Monney

David Kearns

Fine Gael’s former Director of Elections Frank Flannery has launched a stinging criticism of the campaign so far, dubbing the Government’s re-election bid as “complacent” and “presumptuous”.

Mr Flannery said it was “being taken for granted” by the Government that people were feeling the recovery, adding that the current leadership in Fine Gael had failed to inspire with its message that it was the “safest way forward for Ireland.”

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“I don’t think [the party] has made the progress up to this point that they might have hoped for,” he told Newstalks’ Jonathan Healy.

“They’ve done enough in the last fives years to justify [the message] that they’re the safest way forward… but so far in this election they haven’t done nearly enough to put the vision forward of what kind of Ireland we can collectively create together.

“Fine Gael needs to make a much better effort to explain what the recovery actually is. I think an awful lot of people are dubious about its existence…

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“The future needs to be much engaged upon… [because] people need to know what the party is aspiring to. Not what’s going to automatically happen.

"The promises in any case have to come with a caveat that our ability to spend money in the next five years... depends entirely on the recovery continuing.”

Mr Flannery continued, saying he thought the general campaign for all parties had been a strange one; lacking in personality and major debate.

"The leaders have been around an enormous length of time, all of them. There's no sign of young Ireland standing up there and I think that's a lack and part of the disconnect between the official political position.

"There are lots of dynamic young politicians in Dáil Éireann but none of them are represented in the leadership we're being presented in this Election.”

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He added: “If I where in Fine Gael, I would be asking where is Leo Varadkar, where is Simon Coveney, where is the young leadership of the party? “Why aren't they playing a dominant role in this debate, representing the new Ireland and the new generation that's coming up?"

Asked about the possibility of a Fine Gael Fianna Fáil coalition, Mr Flannery said: "It is extraordinarily important that Ireland has a stable government.

"If you don't have a stable government, you will another election in a very short order."

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