Friday 30 September 2016

Chief whip: FF has more power than if in minority government

Published 19/07/2016 | 02:30

Regina Doherty: ‘I found it difficult to think that people would think I would be that two-faced, kind of Machiavellian type’. Photo: Tom Burke
Regina Doherty: ‘I found it difficult to think that people would think I would be that two-faced, kind of Machiavellian type’. Photo: Tom Burke

Fianna Fáil is enjoying more power now than it would if it was in a minority Government, according to Fine Gael minister Regina Doherty.

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The Government Chief Whip also claimed Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin "desperately" wants to become Taoiseach - but said she does not expect him to pull the plug on the current administration.

In a wide ranging interview yesterday, Ms Doherty opened up about being perceived as "two-faced" and "Machiavellian" after a radio interview in which she claimed Taoiseach Enda Kenny's refusal to spell out his exit strategy was causing confusion.

As the interview was taking place, there was uproar in the Dáil at the failure by Ms Doherty to ensure there was a quorum.

Read more: Fianna Fáil happy to let Kenny hobble on, but all that changes if box office Leo takes over

The Meath East TD described the interview to her local radio station LMFM as "extremely ill-advised", adding: "When he (Kenny) is ready to go, he'll let us know."

"Sometimes the conversation on a Friday morning seems more like a chat with your mate and I won't make that mistake again", Ms Doherty said of the interview with presenter Michael Reade.

"He (Kenny) knows there is no malice or intent and there isn't a chink in the support I have for him," Ms Doherty told reporters at the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Donegal.

Mr Doherty said she was "upset" at the fact that many of her colleagues were angry at her over the comments.

"I found it difficult to think that people would think I would be that two-faced, kind of Machiavellian type, or have set him up. I would have rather people just think I was a dope." She added: "It bothered me people thought there was intent behind it because there wasn't."

Ms Doherty also spoke about the current arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.

She suggested that Fianna Fail have more power now than if they did if they leading a minority Government.

Opportunity

"I think the situation suits Fianna Fail because it gives them an opportunity to regroup, it gives an opportunity for their new TDs to gain the experience they need, but also they do have power right now, and maybe more power right now than if they were in a minority government," Ms Doherty said.

"We need to think about their motives and not just assume their single motivation is going to be the polls and when they are in a position to cut and run they will cut and run. Because, if they cut and run at 30pc and we're on 26pc, what will the formation of the next government be?

"We could find ourselves right back on March 10 with a different leader, and I know Micheál desperately wants to be the Taoiseach and fair play to him, it's a great ambition for any politician to have. But I don't think it's as simple as waiting. In order to get a majority or have a partnership in government, there needs to be an awful lot more work done by Fianna Fáil and their suitable partners before any decisions are made."

Ms Doherty said the "elephant in the room" remains the issue of Irish Water. She said she favours the re-introduction of a charging system.

"The elephant in the room in the water issue. I stood for the first time in my elected life and voted for a piece of legislation last week that I didn't agree with," she said referring to the legislation to suspend charges for nine months.

"That's the compromise. I would live and hope that when the commission reports back that we can have a different kind of conversation..."

Irish Independent

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