Friday 19 January 2018

Flannery and Whelan 'have no role in coalition talks': FF, FG

Frank Flannery. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Frank Flannery. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil bosses have been forced to reassure their TDs that two former party advisers have been given no role in any coalition talks.

Reports that Frank Flannery and Noel Whelan have met to agree common ground behind the two parties caused consternation among backbenchers in both parties.

It was claimed Mr Flannery, Fine Gael's former director of elections, was involved in exchanging documents with Mr Whelan, who previously advised Fianna Fáil.

Both men have denied the claims but sources confirmed that they meet regularly to discuss political matters.

"Frank and Noel are good friends. It wouldn't be unusual for them to discuss things," said a source.

"In this case they are both very concerned about the direction the country is going and would like to be able to help in any way possible."

Nonetheless, figures in both parties have been forced to reassure backbenchers who were furious over the suggestion that the pair would be given a key role in negotiation talks.

One minister told the Irish Independent: "They have not been mandated to do any negotiations so if they are meeting it's on their own initiative."

And a Fianna Fáil strategist added: "Our guys have been calling us wondering what the hell is going on -which is absolutely nothing."

Nonetheless, sources say the two men meet regularly to share views on Irish politics and have done so since the election result presented the possibility of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil working together.

It comes as Mr Flannery told a Sunday newspaper that the current leadership of Fine Gael should step aside for younger TDs such as Health Minister Leo Varadkar.

Irish Independent

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