Tuesday 19 September 2017

'God bless Michael Noonan' - FG fails to mention that pensioners in promo video are party members

Card-carrying: A still from the Fine Gael promotional video in which pensioners sing the praises of the Government
Card-carrying: A still from the Fine Gael promotional video in which pensioners sing the praises of the Government
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

It was supposed to look like an average group of pensioners sitting around the kitchen table shooting the breeze about last week's €5 increase in the old-age pensions.

The Fine Gael promotional video purported to be "friends" gathering in rural Ireland to discuss the benefits of the State pension while lavishing praise on the Government for the much-needed dig-out.

At one point, an older woman, who cannot contain herself any longer, exclaims: "God bless Michael Noonan." In the accompanying press release retired nurse Mary Coyne is quoted as saying the "minister is trying to accommodate every sector in society that needs some assistance".

What the press release doesn't mention is Ms Coyne is a card-carrying member of Fine Gael in Sligo, as are most of the other older people sitting around the kitchen table chatting about the great work the Government is doing for pensioners. Those who do not have full membership are viewed locally as party supporters, according to several sources in the constituency.

In fact, the house where the group gathered for this impromptu chin wag about the virtues of the Government is the home of Marianne Lyttle - a secretarial assistant to Sligo TD Tony McLoughlin. Ms Lyttle is not a member of Fine Gael but has worked for Mr McLoughlin in his Sligo office for a number of years.

In the press release, Seamus McGoldrick from Strandhill in Sligo said: "There's a lot more available to us now. And as things get better it will continue to improve.

"The prescription cap will be a help, there's the free GP which is just around the corner [for me], the flu jab and all those things are free and they all count," he added. Again the press release makes no mention of Mr McGoldrick's close ties to Mr McLoughlin and his work on Fine Gael election campaigns. Most of the others in the rooms also have ties to the local Fine Gael network.

A spokesman for Mr McLoughlin said: "Because we run such a good ship in our Sligo office, everyone comes to get things done - even videos."

From today, anyone over the age of 66 in receipt of a State pension will receive an increase. People just like these: goo.gl/YPexPV

Posted by Fine Gael on Thursday, March 9, 2017

A senior Fine Gael source said: "I don't think anyone would be shocked that Fine Gael people are appearing in a Fine Gael video."

However, a Fianna Fail source said: "This is more of the same spin we have come accustomed to from Fine Gael, everything is stage-managed within an inch of its life."

Sunday Independent

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