Tuesday 21 October 2014

Creighton fears party threat to TDs who attend reform rally

Published 12/01/2014 | 02:30

Lucinda Creighton. Photo Ray Ryan
Lucinda Creighton. Photo Ray Ryan

Reform Alliance TD Lucinda Creighton has expressed concerns over claims Fine Gael TDs have been privately warned their career prospects would be damaged if they attend her group's 'Monster Rally' later this month.

More than 500 people have registered to attend the rally at the RDS in a fortnight -- compared with the 600 who attended the Labour Party national conference in recent months.

The former European Affairs Minister said it was "deeply unfortunate" if reports of Fine Gael TDs being warned off the meeting were true. "I would have thought creating an outlet for free expression of ideas is entirely compatible with the principles of the democratic revolution," she said.

"Listening to new ideas is not a toxic exercise, it is not harmful for your health,'' Ms Creighton added, noting that Ireland is still a nation seeking answers to apparently intractable problems in how we govern ourselves.

"Our priority in the RDS is to hear the views of citizens, not other politicians, this is a forum for new ideas," she added.

Another Reform Alliance source noted: "It bears a resemblance to the olden times where Catholics could not attend a Protestant funeral, or even look at a Protestant graveyard."

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However, Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe denied that any bar had been placed on people attending the rally.

"I made inquiries on the matter and no directive has been sent out. I'm led to believe it is a public forum so there is no issue," he said.

One Fine Gael source noted though that there were indications the party leadership would take a dim view of any members attending.

"There is no way the hierarchy would be foolish enough to directly ban people from attending; you can be sure though it wouldn't be too good for your political health to be seen in such company," the source said.

"Anyone feeling brave should be assured there will be a few designated observers at this one, they would be foolish if they didn't," another source said.

Meanwhile, Ms Creighton also said there was "no feud" with former PD leader Michael McDowell -- despite his absence from the platform or list of speakers at the rally.

She said the absence of Mr McDowell, who she campaigned with in the Seanad referendum and who has been linked with the formation of a new party, was not a deliberate snub.

But, in an indication that the former PD leader is unlikely to have a pivotal role in the new grouping, she warned: "The problem is that Michael is intimately associated with the regime that failed the country.

"That is not to say he doesn't have a role to play in Ireland's regeneration.

"But this is a movement based around new ideas and the PDs have had more influence on the direction of this country, for better or worse, than Fine Gael over a quarter of a century."

Irish Independent

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