Friday 9 December 2016

FG reports don't blame anyone for poll disaster

Published 27/09/2016 | 02:30

Two internal reviews into Fine Gael’s election disaster fail to name a single individual responsible for the party losing 26 seats. Photo: Collins
Two internal reviews into Fine Gael’s election disaster fail to name a single individual responsible for the party losing 26 seats. Photo: Collins

Two internal reviews into Fine Gael's election disaster fail to name a single individual responsible for the party losing 26 seats.

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The reports - carried out separately by Dr Marion Coy and a group of TDs and senators - were published by the Taoiseach more than seven months after the election.

There have been claims internally that there was an effort to keep the reports "secret" ahead of the think-in last month.

In her report, Dr Coy, who heads the Fine Gael-linked think-tank, the Michael Collins Institute, found that Fine Gael struggled with everything from timekeeping to communications. She suggests that the party had a lack of vision going into the election and a lack of internal debate allowed "some self-appointed source of authority" control events.

Fine Gael was not able to quickly respond to national sentiment, she says, while recommending the "urgent" appointment of a new director of policy.

She also advises that the party should set up a new Steering Group led by the Taoiseach to oversee a major overhaul of their organisation. The report adds that key figures in the party hierarchy need to be open to more diverse voices and the party membership should be mobilised through the development of issue-based campaigns.

The second report, compiled by TDs Maria Bailey, Peter Burke, Alan Farrell, Kate O'Connell and Patrick O'Donovan and Senator Maura Hopkins, reaches a number of similar conclusions, particularly around the area of communications.

It also notes that timekeeping is a problem for the party, stating that the Taoiseach and ministers should show up to press briefings on time.

They recommend that all visits by ministers and TDs to constituencies should be well flagged in advance but that events should appear less stage-managed. "Speakers should not appear stiff and uncomfortable when on stage; they should be prepared and briefed with necessary information," the report says.

There is also criticism of the reliance on market research, with the report stating: "Focus groups should be made up of party members and supporters, not paid commercial groups."

While the report makes no explicit reference to Fine Gael's disastrous 'Keep the recovery going' slogan, it says: "The parliamentary party should be used to examine the effectiveness or otherwise of centrally produced party slogans and branding material."

Irish Independent

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