Car crash interview on RTE, spat with Matt Cooper and parody on social media - RENUA Ireland's eventful first day
It only officially launched this morning - but RENUA Ireland might already be having what many would consider a bad day at the office.
Lucinda Creighton launched her new political party called 'RENUA Ireland' earlier today and said she has a group of 180 people ready to offer themselves as candidates for public office.
But seven hours later, the new glow was already starting to wear off thanks to an interview between RTE broadcaster Mary Wilson and RENUA Ireland member Terence Flanagan which has been described as "car crash".
Read more here: Revealed: Lucinda's new party is called Renua Ireland
Wilson had to cut show the interview short with Flanagan, who appeared unable to answer several questions about the new party.
During today's Drivetime show on RTE Radio one, the former Fine Gael TD said: "I'm committed to RENUA. We're going to keep our promises and we're going to be principled people."
"What I'm saying is RENUA is going to be very different. We're going to ensure that obviously what happened...what happened...emmm...will ensure..." before being cut off by the broadcaster, who noted the lack of commitments to key areas such as health and education in the new party's policies.
"There's lots of areas that haven't...or that have been included in this party. We want to renew Ireland for the better," he said.
At several points throughout the interview Mr Flanagan seems to lose his train of thought.
"It's a big day for you as you say," Drivetime host Mary Wilson said sympathetically.
She tried to quiz him again about the party's document which is "about 40 pages long... with commitments in health and education".
Wilson put it to the Dail deputy that there are a lot of areas that haven't been included in the party, before pausing for the politician to respond.
"We want to renew Ireland for the better... show compassion and solidarity for the people...." he says before sighing and going silent again.
Wilson continues to be sympathetic towards Flanagan and takes a different angle for the remainder of the interview.
She asks what type of party RENUA Ireland intends to be.
"It's a party that's going to ensure promises...." deputy Flanagan says before tailing off again and stopping.
Again, Mary Wilson takes another angle to give the TD an opportunity to rescue the interview.
"We'll stay with taxation," she said, referring to the party's policy document.
She talks to Flanagan about the tax cuts they have promised to the self employed before quizzing him about "the PAYE worker".
"The PAYE worker....." the TD says before clicking noise is heard followed by silence.
"Terence I think we'll leave it there for today," Mary says before adding that they will discuss the issues again in the future.
Afterwards, Deputy Flanagan admitted to Independent.ie that it was not a good interview.
“Everyone has their good interviews and their bad interviews. Unfortunately this was a bad interview,” he said.
Lucinda Creighton says Terence Flanagan was “daunted” ahead of his car-crash radio interview but said he won’t be kept from doing future interviews.
Ms Creighton was speaking on the Late Late show with her new party colleague Eddie Hobbs.
Asked about the interview Mr Flanagan did with RTE Radio earlier in the day, the former Fine Gael minister defended her colleague.
Ms Creighton said she hadn’t heard the interview but “heard about it”.
“I know that Terence himself wasn’t particularly happy with it but that’s politics, that’s life. You have good interviews, you’ve bad interviews. It can be very nerve wracking.
"Not everybody is experienced in media the way you (Ryan Tubridy) are, the way we are and I think Terence was a bit daunted today,” she said.
“But you know what, there will be plenty of opportunities for him to show his metal.”
Mr Hobbs said the Dublin TD “had a brain freeze, as can happen”.
“What I would say is that there are 170 people dedicated to standing for the party already that aren’t known to the public. Terence had just one of those days."
Later said he had “great sympathy” for Mr Flanagan.
RENUA's scrape with prime-time media wasn't over by this time.
Matt Cooper took to his Twitter page to criticise new leader Lucinda for not coming on his show 'The Last Word' on Today FM.
He told his followers that Lucinda was appearing on RTE's Late Late Show.
At one stage, RTE's Six One anchor Bryan Dobson waded in telling Matt that Lucinda wouldn't appear on 'Six One News' - but her husband and party colleague Senator Paul Bradford was appearing.
"No @LCreighton or @EddieHobbs on @lstwrd tonight. Saving themselves for rte tv 2night. Not interested in making a pitch to @lstwrd listeners
"We have some really interesting guests, stories and topics on @lstwrd it should be said. Very happy with our line-up," Matt tweeted.
"Lucinda wouldn't come on the Six-One News either Matt, although I'm pleased to say we do hope to have Sen Paul Bradford," Bryan Dobson tweeted.
"I understood Shane Dunphy was going on. Trying to ensure a range of voices on all media not just Eddie [Hobbs] & I," Lucinda said.
"He is not a sitting TD. Nor does he have Eddie's profile with our audience," Matt replied.
"And you'll find the majority of our candidates will not be sitting TDs. Hope that doesn't mean you will refuse to iv all of them," Lucinda said.
"This is your launch day isn't it? Your candidates will get the same fair and proportionate coverage as everyone else," Matt said.
"No we are trying to spread it out. The point of our new party is involving new people. All of them are centrally involved."
"Did you get the brush off because of the late late show too? (laughing face)," he added.
Meanwhile, quick-witted social media users created a parody Facebook page under the 'RENUA' name today.
Lucinda Creighton's party had failed to reserve the Facebook name before the party launch, allowing someone to create the fake page.
The page, which had garnered almost 900 likes by the evening, attracted comments online with some criticising the parody page's use of the party's genuine name.
"I don't deny some of the material there is funny, and you can set up an obvious parody under the name Déjavua if you want - but squatting on their assigned name isn't cool," one Facebook user wrote.
"They should have had the social media locked down before launching (bizarre that they didn't) but it's hard for a new party in Ireland, and in circumstances where they don't have any paid staff, or any funds, something will always be overlooked," he added.
A spokesperson for RENUA told Independent.ie they were aware of the parody page and had been in contact with Facebook to request its removal.
The official party page on Facebook is called 'RENUA Ireland' and is listed as a 'political party' on the social media giant.
Social media users also noted a strange sentence on the new party's website.
In a brief paragraph describing welfare policy it states 'Those who are not self reliant will be imprisoned rather than released by a life on welfare'. A number of people on Twitter questioned the use of the word 'imprisoned'.
A figure within RENUA said this was a reference to the welfare trap, but that it was "clumsily put".
The figure added that it would be changed in due course. Despite this, they said it was a good day for the party.
Futhermore, asked if he would stand in the next General Election, Mr Eddie Hobbs said he was the president of the party and that his “job was to act as a watchdog” on behalf of the members joining the party.
“If there was a General Election in the morning, would I stand?," he said on the Late Late Show.
"The answer is I wouldn’t be able to because I’m running a business and I have four kids that I’m putting through education.”
However the Renua Ireland website includes 'E Hobbs' among the candidates who will run in the election.
Mr Hobbs said the website was wrong.