A Fianna Fáil meting was told that errors and U-turns this week were “embarrassing” for the party and that it had to get tighter grip on what it was doing in government.
Jennifer Murnane O’Connor said that she and John McGuinness had been on Carlow-Kilkenny radio that morning, and had been 'savaged' in the public reaction by phone, text and social media while attempting to defend actions on the superjunior pay rises and the cancellation of pandemic unemployment payments for airport travellers.
Cormac Devlin of Dun Laoghaire said governing was tough and decisions had to be taken, and all in the party accepted that. However he added: “We could do without the errors.”
Some TDs complained that the outside media had reported a major row on superjuniors, but in fact there had been no strident criticism.
“People were bewildered to see in real time that it was being said there was a big row. There wasn’t,” said one. Another declared: “Anything that was said, it was more in sorrow than in anger.”
One Deputy told the Irish Independent: “There is very little you can do as a Government backbencher, but the mood was very flat. It was if we were all down in the body of a plane and we know the terrorists have got into the cockpit. It’s a [expletive deletive], but we don’t have any control of it.”
A TD commented: “People were just a bit bewildered at this series of events, to be honest. Calling it an unfortunate series would be very kind. But we have to make the best of things now and try to do better.”
The party had briefings on agriculture and restructuring of funding under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and were also briefed by Education Minister Norma Foley on the re-opening of schools.
Former Justice spokesman, now backbencher, Jim O’Callaghan also spoke, to welcome the stimulus for business in the July plan and the reopening of schools, but said these two very positive developments had been entirely overshadowed by the controversies this week, also referring to them as “errors.”
Jim O’Callaghan said that positive developments had been entirely overshadowed by the controversies this week
Other TDs said there’re was “nothing noteworthy” to the meeting, that it was “routine,” and “businesslike.” There was also a discussion of the plight of the Debenhams workers laid off by the Irish chain store.
Party leader Micheál Martin wrapped up the two hour meeting acknowledging some items could have been handled better, but said the Government had also done much to re-boot the economy and restore community life and stability to homes, as would be shown by the return to school. He is due to meet the Debenhams workers today (Thurs).