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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Lucinda Creighton moves to bury political hatchet with Michael McDowell

Ex-FG TD and McDowell 'are in a very similar space now'

Published 04/05/2014 | 02:30

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Lucinda Creighton at Leinster House
Lucinda Creighton at Leinster House
POLITICAL ICONOCLAST: Michael McDowell
POLITICAL ICONOCLAST: Michael McDowell

IN the wake of a Sunday Independent poll which revealed that 54 per cent of the electorate want a new political party, Lucinda Creighton has moved to bury the hatchet with Michael McDowell.

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The former PD leader and the Reform Alliance leader in all but name have been cold political companions to date.

However, in her first political interview since the birth of her child, Ms Creighton said: "The past is the past. Michael has always been an innovative thinker with a reforming inclination."

Significantly, Ms Creighton, who told the Sunday Independent she is "chomping at the bit to return to political life'', said "his participation will and should be welcome in any new political movement''.

Ms Creighton also warned that such a movement was necessary because "there is a danger a lot of reasonable middle-class people will vote for Sinn Fein unless some alternative raises its sights''.

When asked if the feud was over, Ms Creighton insisted: "There never was a feud, we were just in different political spaces, in terms of what we want for our country, it appears to me that we are in a very similar space now."

She added: "Michael McDowell is a person whose advice I respect and value, he has a great deal to offer."

In contrast, Ms Creighton is in a very different space when it comes to Fine Gael.

Asked if not renewing her membership was the hardest decision she has ever made, she laughed and said: "No, Enda has made it clear he does not want me or my ilk and I have made it clear I do intend to run as a Dail candidate. My main difficulty was letting down the close friends I have in Fine Gael."

The Reform Alliance TD added that debacles such as GSOC and the Seanad referendum meant "I did not want to be a member of Fine Gael any more. I stayed because of old friends but I don't feel the party is honouring the values it represented when I joined under John Bruton.

"All of the issues surrounding GSOC, the extraordinary arrogance, it all smacked of Fianna Fail Lite."

When asked if she would consider rejoining Fine Gael if someone such as Leo Varadkar became the leader, Lucinda, referring to the pair's public spat earlier this year, replied: "Well I would have to forgive him first.''

But the Reform Alliance TD hastily added: "I am joking. Leo is a dear friend, but, I fear the malaise in Fine Gael is too deep to be cured by one individual."

And this malaise, she warned, was "not just confined" to Fine Gael.

"There is a complete absence of intellectual rigour in party politics as it now operates. It is a palace of zombies where people who are elected give up their faculties and capacities for independent thought."

Ms Creighton also said that, despite the previously published concerns of former minister Tom Parlon about the issue of motherhood and politics in this newspaper, it is still very much her intention to build a new political movement.

Speaking publicly for the first time since her pregnancy, Ms Creighton said: "I've been a little interrupted, but I am going to be quite busy from now on, I am so enjoying spending time with my baby daughter.

"But having a baby has not dampened my appetite to do something for my country; why should it. In fact, I am all the more driven because people are utterly devastated and have lost all faith in the political process, I want to be part of a movement that changes this around."

Civil War politics, she said, "ended in 2011. Fine Gael temporarily benefited from the collapse of Fianna Fail but if they or any other party believes they can from now on command a core vote as a matter of right they are deluded''.

The Reform Alliance TD predicted that when it comes to the current elections "I think all the established parties will be reminded of this in a pretty harsh fashion this month''.

She expressed particular concern about the sort of political carelessness that is "allowing another housing bubble to emerge, it would be a form of political treason if the Government was to sleepwalk itself into another false boom''.

Ms Creighton also pledged to "put my heart and soul into working with anyone who wants to forge something new and fresh in Irish life''.

She added: "We intend to follow up on the success of our RDS conference with a series of town hall meetings across the provinces. We are talking to people outside the political process, people are offering."

Ms Creighton responded coyly to queries as to whether she was talking to people inside the political process, simply noting that she had been talking to "some''.

The Reform Alliance TD, however, repeatedly declined to elaborate on who the "some'' might be.

But she noted: "We have to look to get people from outside the traditional political route, people such as David Hall, who have created a profile on serious issues."

Ms Creighton also conceded that for any new political movement to be effective "obviously you would have to have a far broader range of people than what is in the Reform Alliance now''.

The Reform Alliance TD also sharply dismissed claims that the Alliance is simply a pro-life 'front'.

"Abortion is not the reason I got involved in politics, our problem there was once you break one promise in politics you break a lot. It doesn't look as if we were incorrect either," she added.

Sunday Independent

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