Wednesday 22 November 2017

FG preparing a 'disaster report' on Mitchell bid

Damning document set to land on Taoiseach's desk within days as party apportions blame


A 'disaster report' into Gay Mitchell's presidential election bid is "almost complete", and will be presented to Taoiseach Enda Kenny in a matter of days.

A week on from the "humiliating" defeat, recrimination and blame is rife within FG.

Party chairman and director of elections Charlie Flanagan, who is compiling the report, has strongly denied that he was to blame for the party candidate's disastrous showing at the polls.

"I gave everything I had, I was last man standing. No one can say I abandoned my post during this election," Mr Flanagan told the Sunday Independent.

Mr Flanagan said he would not allow himself to be made a scapegoat and that this was a defeat the party as a whole needed to examine.

"We will have to look at the nuts and bolts of the campaign . . . to find out where and why it went wrong," he said.

When asked whether Mr Mitchell was himself contributing to the review, Mr Flanagan said: "The candidate may well contribute."

Mr Flanagan's report is examining what happened between the day in July when Mr Mitchell was selected by the party to the count last weekend in Dublin Castle.

One of the key issues that needs answering is why the party, which defied Mr Kenny by choosing Mr Mitchell over Pat Cox, failed to organise properly or adequately apply their energies to the campaign. Mr Kenny was visibly disappointed with Mr Mitchell's nomination.

A host of leading party figures told the Sunday Independent that the real reason things went wrong was that many didn't see the Presid-ency as a top priority, hence the lacklustre campaign.

It has emerged that on the evening before the polls opened, a number of leading FG party members were seen dining in the members restaurant, seen by many as a clear sign of how they had given up on the campaign.

"Of course people will try and blame Charlie, he was the man running the campaign. But in reality many within the party didn't see the Presidency as a major issue, given what is needed to be done on the Budget, the economy. For many it was a one-day event; we lost but we move on," said one FG junior minister.

There was a lot of sympathy for Mr Mitchell among a number of the party, who acknowledged he had been "let down" badly.

In truth, following a series of poor poll showings, FG members had given up the ghost as they realised their candidate was not going to become President.

The apathy within the party was typified by the non-appearance by at least five FG ministers at Mr Mitchell's rally at the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin the weekend before polling day.

Those who failed to show included Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Justice Minister Alan Shatter, Environment Minister Phil Hogan, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

Sunday Independent

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