Fianna Fail defends secretive conference
Fianna Fail has defended the decision to hold its first mini Ard Fheis behind closed doors.
The event was held at a Galway hotel and a security company was hired to keep journalists and anyone else without party accreditation from the sessions.
At a press conference afterwards, Social Protection Minister Eamon O Cuiv denied that the party was making any attempt to "manage the message" from the event.
Mr O Cuiv said that 500 delegates from the Galway West and Galway East constituencies had attended and there was "very good interaction" between the speakers and the attendance. He did not believe the staging of the event signalled the end of the Ard Fheis.
"The purpose of this was that a lot of people would come here who wouldn't be able to go to an Ard Fheis and it was more interactive than you could possibly do with the kind of numbers that we'd get at an Ard Fheis."
He said that because of the sheer size and numbers in the party it was "a great way" of giving an opportunity to the grassroots to interact with ministers and TDs.
"It was held in private because it was felt that people would be less inhibited in making their points at a conference if they felt it was private.
"It wasn't to protect the public representatives but it was to try to encourage people, who might be shy in speaking if they thought the media was present, (and) to give them an opportunity to say what they wanted.
"I think anybody who was at any of the sessions couldn't in any way say that the message was managed."