Tuesday 28 February 2017

Doyle bows out with stinging broadside at 'Foxrock girl' Childers

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

Fine Gael's Avril Doyle canvassing in Clara, Co Offaly, for John
Paul Phelan yesterday
Fine Gael's Avril Doyle canvassing in Clara, Co Offaly, for John Paul Phelan yesterday

FINE Gael MEP Avril Doyle last night launched an astonishing attack on Labour candidate Nessa Childers as campaigning for the European election intensified bitterly.

The retiring Ireland East MEP accused Ms Childers of "political naivety" and being a "Foxrock girl" used by the Labour Party to exploit a Fianna Fail political dynasty.

Delivering a memorable salvo as she prepares to exit politics, Ms Doyle said the daughter of former President and Fianna Fail minister Erskine Childers is simply relying on her family surname to win the seat held by her since 1999.

"My problem is that I have no idea what her policies are. Election literature came through the door from all the candidates. Her only platform appears to be that she was a Fianna Fail President's daughter," Ms Doyle told the Irish Independent.

"I think she's a Foxrock girl who was a former Green Party councillor who is now on the Labour ticket in a different constituency where she doesn't live."

However, Labour TD Liz McManus, who is director of elections for Ireland East, claimed that Ms Doyle "got scared and walked off the pitch" when Ms Childers had been unanimously selected by the Labour Party to contest the seat.

Strategy

Attacking Ms Childers is a clear sign that Fine Gael is "panicking" and comes after their strategy of dividing the constituency between Mairead McGuinness and John Paul Phelan had "completely fallen apart", she said.

Fine Gael is in "disarray" after an opinion poll showed Mr Phelan poised to lose the party's seat to Labour.

Ms McManus said that using "boot-boy tactics" was beneath Ms Doyle.

"Let's keep it clean. That's what I'm urging Fine Gael, and Avril Doyle in particular. Let's not debase a political contest into a nasty series of personal attacks," Ms McManus said.

"Avril Doyle had a row with Mairead McGuinness at the last European elections and it was beneath both candidates. She's clearly trying to do the same now in relation to Nessa Childers."

However, Ms Doyle claimed the Labour Party needed to make clear it is not just "using" Ms Childers because of her father's name and that there's more to her policies than just her surname.

"The word carpetbagger comes to mind, and I'm not saying this of Nessa personally, but in terms of the Labour Party's use of her. They are being opportunistic in moving a Dublin-based candidate and running her for another constituency on the basis of her name," she said.

Ms McManus rejected the claim that Ms Childers had failed to engage in debates and had instead completed more radio interviews than any other candidate. And she described as "absolutely ridiculous" the suggestion that Ms Childers is being "used" by the party because of her surname.

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