Thursday 14 November 2019

Enda Kenny meets Frank Flannery about return to Fine Gael fold

Enda Kenny and Frank Flannery
Enda Kenny and Frank Flannery
Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has held talks with former Fine Gael strategist Frank Flannery about coming back to the party to work on general election strategy, Independent.ie has learned.

Mr Kenny had not met Mr Flannery since he resigned as Fine Gael’s director of elections and trustee last March following controversy over his role as a board member with the Rehab Group.

Mr Flannery is expected to return to a senior role on the party’s election preparations committee.

The meeting in the Cellar Bar of the Merrion Hotel, across from Government Buildings, happened last week and came after Mr Kenny described Mr Flannery as a “friend” and said he would be happy to meet him.

Mr Kenny and Mr Flannery are understood to have discussed a possible role for Mr Flannery in Fine Gael’s general election preparations.

No agreement was reached about Mr Flannery returning or in what capacity. However,

“That is not yet determined. But it is certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility. It is a distinct possibility,” a source said.

Fine Gael sources were not surprised to hear of Mr Kenny’s meeting.

“There is a lot of pressure being put on him that he does bring back Frank Flannery in some capacity,” a source said.

In a pre-Christmas briefing with political correspondents, Mr Kenny spoke positively about his relationship with Mr Flannery.

“I always regard Frank Flannery as a friend of mine, and he still is. You know friends can differ over different things now and again. There are always opportunities for people to give of their best,” said Mr Kenny said.

“So if I meet Frank Flannery in the street . . . I will have a chat with him and a cup of coffee, why wouldn’t I?”

Mr Flannery’s departure from the Fine Gael set up was followed by European Commissioner Phil Hogan’s move to Brussels.

“The comments the Taoiseach made over Christmas would suggest some sort of thawing,” a source said.

A Government spokesman declined to confirm the meeting took place.

“As the Taoiseach outlined in the pre-Christmas briefing, Frank Flannery is a friend of his and he would be more than happy to meet him,” the spokesman said.

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