Saturday 18 November 2017

FG must avoid 'negative campaigning', report says

Fine Gael TD's and senators at the Fine Gael Think in at the Keadeen Hotel in Newbridge. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Fine Gael TD's and senators at the Fine Gael Think in at the Keadeen Hotel in Newbridge. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Fine Gael should "avoid negative campaigning" and focus on its own "strengths", rather than the weaknesses of other parties.

That's according to a report carried out into its disastrous general election result by a group consisting of members of the parliamentary party.

The report, which was one of two presented to the Fine Gael think-in, also recommended that speakers appearing on behalf of the party should be "well enough briefed so they can be more relaxed and appear less stage-managed".

The report also calls for a different approach to dealing with the media.

"We must see the media as a conduit to keep the public informed on work that Fine Gael is doing.

"It is our responsibility to accurately inform the public on our political activity," the report states.

It adds: "Centrally produced party slogans and branding should be stress-tested within the party".

This is a clear swipe at the election slogan 'Keep the Recovery Going'.

Presenting the report on behalf of the TDs, Dublin Bay South deputy Kate O'Connell said members who gave feedback called for 'Athlone style' training events to be held twice per year.

And the report calls for the election manifesto to become a 'living document' that develops over the course of a term.

Meanwhile, a second report conducted by Dr Marion Coy was described by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as being "more academic".

It says Fine Gael should redefine its future as a "campaigning party" which is "anchored" in local communities.

Among the nine recommendations are for Fine Gael to "build a strong network of connections at all levels of Irish society" and for it to become "much more open to external influences".

A re-organisation of the party structure is recommended, while a director of policy should be appointed.

Ms Coy also says many elements of the party, including its research and communication offices, need to be overhauled.

The report states: "Future electoral strategy and planning must be conducted in a more inclusive manner and take into account the failures in vision, empathy, planning and tactical positioning, communication, campaigning and responsiveness identified in the 2016 campaign."

Mr Kenny said earlier that both reports would be published after being presented to the party's national executive.

Neither report chose to 'name or shame' any individuals.

TDs expressed mixed views in relation to the reports and criticised the fact that there wasn't enough time at the think-in to discuss the party's performance.

Irish Independent

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