Sunday 25 March 2018

It's 'nonsense' to say FF destroyed country – O'Rourke

Cllr Aengus O'Rourke (FF) canvassing in Ballymahon, Co Longford last week. Photo: David Walsh
Cllr Aengus O'Rourke (FF) canvassing in Ballymahon, Co Longford last week. Photo: David Walsh

John Downing and Niall O'Connor

FIANNA Fail by-election candidate Aengus O'Rourke has attacked as "lazy analysis" suggestions that his party "destroyed the country".

Mr O'Rourke, a son of former government minister Mary O'Rourke, and a first cousin of the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, said Fianna Fail could not be blamed for the country's economic woes.

But he also conceded that he would have preferred if Fianna Fail had organised an open by-election selection convention instead of imposing him as the candidate of choice from headquarters.

The method imposed by FF HQ confined the selection to the Athlone area of Westmeath only – a decision that caused widespread anger especially among Longford party members.

The Longford-Westmeath contender blamed the country's economic woes mainly on the failures of the Financial Regulator and the Central Bank to regulate the banks, along with a lack of supervision of these two institutions by the Department of Finance.

"That is lazy analysis – this thing that Fianna Fail destroyed the country really is a nonsense to be quite honest," he said in an on-line interview with the political blogger, Johnny Fallon.


Mr O'Rourke argued that his experience on the campaign trail told him that people were more interested in the future than apportioning blame for the past.

"Obviously Fianna Fail made mistakes. They gave too much away... but the Opposition at the time criticised them for not giving even more away," he said.

The FF candidate conceded that there had been "too much pomp" attached to government with too much money being spent on things like salaries and quangos. Benchmarking pay in the public services brought some positive things but this also "gave too much away", he said.

Meanwhile, the brother of Brian Cowen has insisted that there is nothing wrong with the former Taoiseach canvassing in the local and European elections.

Laois/Offaly TD Barry Cowen strongly hit out at some party figures who described the former Taoiseach as being part of the "old guard" of Fianna Fail.

In an unexpected and passionate defence of his brother, Mr Cowen insisted that the former Fianna Fail leader remains a "loyal and faithful" member.

Barry Cowen was responding to criticism of his brother's decision to canvass with Fianna Fail MEP Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher.

Pictures of Mr Cowen on the campaign trail were published as an Irish Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll found that over one-third of voters would be less likely to vote for the party if former ministers returned.

Irish Independent

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