Wednesday 28 September 2016

FG election review 'a mess' - as two reports under way

Published 18/07/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Fine Gael may end up producing two separate reports into the party's disastrous General Election following clashes between TDs and the review chairperson Dr Marion Coy.

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Party sources have spoken of tensions between Dr Coy and some TDs involved in drafting the report - the publication of which has now been delayed.

Dr Coy, who heads up the Fine Gael-linked think tank The Michael Collins Institute, was tasked by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, inset, to analyse the party's General Election campaign.

The former President of the Galway-Mayo institute of Technology, who is highly regarded within Fine Gael, interviewed senior figures such as the party's general secretary Tom Curran and director of elections Brian Hayes and has compiled a draft version of her work.

Dr Coy's version is expected to recommend a series of sweeping changes to party structures.

However, a group of four TDs also on the review panel embarked on interviews with dozens of councillors and party members, and have produced their own version of why Fine Gael lost 20 seats in the election. The TDs are Maria Bailey (Dún Laoghaire), Peter Burke (Longford/Westmeath), Alan Farrell (Dublin Fingal) and Kate O'Connell (Dublin Bay South).

Limerick TD Patrick O'Donovan and Meath East TD Helen McEntee stepped down from the review after being appointed as junior ministers.

The TDs' report will criticise the use of the slogan 'Keep the Recovery Going' and the fact that it was not referred to the parliamentary party meeting beforehand. But there is now uncertainty in the party over which of the two reports will take precedence.

Party sources said some of the TDs on the review panel expressed disquiet with Dr Coy's report, which they say does not adequately address concerns within the party over its dismal election campaign.

"The two reports are miles apart. There has been a divergence of opinion over the best approach to take and it has led to friction," said one source involved in the process.

A separate party source said the TDs involved have not even been presented with Dr Coy's final version. Likewise, the deputies have kept their own work separate and have not forwarded a copy to Dr Coy. "It's a bit of a mess," the source said.

Dr Coy is believed to have told senior party figures that by combining both reports, the end product would not be "independent" given that it would involve the input of members of the parliamentary party.

Attempts to contact Dr Coy proved unsuccessful. A party spokeswoman said it had always been the understanding that Ms Coy's report would be independent and that the other TDs have been involved in "surveying" members of the party.

Irish Independent

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