Thursday 25 May 2017

It's time to heal the leadership hurt, says ex-rebel

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

A PROMINENT former rebel urged both sides in Fine Gael to adopt a more conciliatory approach to heal the wounds left by the leadership battle.

The plea came as tensions remained high between those who backed Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and those who supported his unsuccessful challenger Richard Bruton.

Fine Gael TD Michael Creed, who was sacked as agriculture spokesman after supporting Mr Bruton, said the repercussions of the contest were ongoing.

"I think it is incumbent on both sides to help the party to move forward. If the victors adopt an approach of 'winner takes all', that's not going to help the process," he said.

Mr Creed said the battle was over in terms of the Fine Gael leadership but added that things could not go back to "business as usual" in the party unless efforts were made on both sides.

The atmosphere in the party has privately been described as "putrid" by another backbench TD, who said some people were still not speaking to each other due to the "huge bad blood".

There are also complaints that those who backed Mr Kenny are being publicly rewarded.

Challenge

Another backbencher noted last night that Mr Kenny appointed Donegal South West TD Dinny McGinley to the €10,000-a-year position as chair of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change.

Mr McGinley had publicly backed Mr Kenny at the height of the leadership challenge -- and was replacing another Kenny supporter, Sean Barrett TD, who had been promoted to the frontbench.

There will now be even greater interest in the party to see what Mr Kenny does with the next committee chair position -- the expected vacancy left in the Oireachtas European Scrutiny Committee by the promotion of its former chairman John Perry (another backer of the Fine Gael leader) to the frontbench.

However, Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan played down the reports yesterday. He told RTE's 'This Week' programme that reports of strife in the party were "exaggerated".

When asked about reports that Richard Bruton and Leo Varadkar had not been invited to Fine Gael's golf fundraiser at the K Club last week, Mr Noonan said he had not been there either because he was not a golfer.

"The bulk of party seem to be moving in the one direction, saying the decision has been made and we must get in behind it," he said.

Irish Independent

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