Kenny furious as Creighton attacks party over donation
Published 21/07/2010 | 05:00
FINE GAEL leader Enda Kenny was said to be furious last night after rogue backbench TD Lucinda Creighton ripped open the party's still-raw divisions in spectacular fashion.
On a day when he was supposed to be highlighting a party initiative in border counties, Mr Kenny instead found himself being criticised for accepting political donations from developers tied up in the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).
The truculent TD put herself on the collision course with her boss -- just weeks after the failed heave against him -- by criticising his recent golf fundraiser.
"It is not a good image for any political party to be in receipt of donations from developers who are associated with NAMA, full stop," said Ms Creighton.
She insisted that there could be no room in Fine Gael for "cute-hoor" politics, which she said had "defined and tainted Irish public life like an incurable cancer".
Ms Creighton revealed that other members of the party also had concerns about the image of Fine Gael following revelations about the involvement of Michael O'Flynn of O'Flynn Construction in the golf classic at the K Club.
She added that the controversial donation by Mr O'Flynn should be handed back.
At the launch of his party's cross-border forum report in Cavan yesterday, Mr Kenny repeatedly refused to comment on Ms Creighton's remarks. However, he was said by sources to be seething.
"I haven't seen Deputy Creighton's speech and I don't propose to comment on a speech I haven't seen," he said.
Mr Kenny was then asked if it was an indication of a wider problem in his party -- that people like Ms Creighton were not happy after the failed heave against him.
"People in any party are never happy entirely. I will say this, Fine Gael's activities are all perfectly legitimate and within the law. I haven't read the deputy's speech, I will read it and comment on it," he said.
A Fine Gael spokesman said afterwards that every member of the party was entitled to express their opinions.
Fine Gael TD Michael Ring, who backed Mr Kenny in the leadership battle, said he believed Ms Creighton's speech was motivated by her opposition to the party leader.
"These people just have to let go now. What has happened has happened in the party and we need to move on. Let's unite the party and get rid of this terrible Government," he said.
Fine Gael director of elections Phil Hogan has already said the party would oppose plans by the Government to introduce legislation banning corporate donations.
Yesterday, Ms Creighton admitted that there was still healing to take place since the party's divisive leadership battle last month.
"I think that it would be a little bit of a fallacy to say that everybody has moved on and that there aren't certain wounds yet to heal," she said.
"I hope that we will see strong leadership from both Enda Kenny and, of course, the people who surround him to ensure that those wounds are healed."
She stressed that Fine Gael had to pull up its socks and raise its game.
Ms Creighton also said she would not favour the return of Michael Lowry to the party.
"He has been under investigation by the Moriarty Tribunal for over 10 years. He resigned from Fine Gael 14 years ago because he had questions to answer. And those questions have not been answered, as far as I am concerned," she said.
In her address to up to 200 delegates at the MacGill Summer School in Co Donegal, she added: "We cannot be satisfied with low standards in high places. Fine Gael in government must be much more than simply 'Fianna Fail Light'.
"We cannot on the one hand condemn Fianna Fail for entertaining developers in the Galway tent, while on the other hand extending the biscuit tin for contributions from high-profile developers who are beholden to NAMA.
"The Irish people expect more from Fine Gael -- they demand more and they are right," she said.
Ms Creighton also criticised the stringent three-line whip system, which she said ensured that no politician thought independently.
She added that it was indicative of an immature democracy and demonstrated a lack of confidence among political parties.
Green Party TD Paul Gogarty "congratulated" Ms Creighton for having belatedly discovered what he said was the truth about her party.