Sunday 17 February 2019

Lucinda Creighton finally enters the fray but has no policies yet

Fine Gael fears it could damage chances of leading government

Offaly councillor John Leahy, Lucinda Creighton and Eddie Hobbs at the press conference yesterday to launch a new party. Photo: Doug O’Connor
Offaly councillor John Leahy, Lucinda Creighton and Eddie Hobbs at the press conference yesterday to launch a new party. Photo: Doug O’Connor
Lucinda Creighton and economist Eddie Hobbs
Lucinda Crieghton and Eddie Hobbs at the launch of a political party at The Marker Hotel, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney
John Downing

John Downing

Lucinda Creighton has finally entered the political fray by unveiling a new party - but the new grouping has no name and no policies.

Ms Creighton said up to 100 people had worked since last April on planning the party which is expected to be launched within eight more weeks. But she said policy formation would have to wait at least until the full launch as it would be formulated by the new members.

The state of unreadiness of the project was heavily criticised by commentators and political rivals. But Ms Creighton insisted that these criticisms were not valid as she and colleagues were about creating a new type of national political movement.

Ms Creighton yesterday outlined four main points which she said would form the basis of the new party's policies, including:

* Building a new economy that supports workers, entrepreneurs and small business.

* Fostering a new spirit in the public service that rewards hard work and effort to serve the people.

* Creating a new political system that allows freedom of thought, difference and independence.

* Government working for a minimum lifestyle standard.

Critics said these four points were far too vague and that she was playing for time.

Confusion also surrounded how the new party would be funded. While Ms Creighton conceded that she would need close to €1m to fight the general election, she admitted to the Irish Independent that it was "a tall order" as the party planned to raise the funds through small

donations from around the country. Ms Creighton said she wanted her new political party to "lead the next government" effectively ousting her former colleagues in Fine Gael.

The former junior minister's strident comments came as senior Fine Gael figures conceded donations from around the country. Ms Creighton said she wanted her new political party to "lead the next government" effectively ousting her former colleagues in Fine Gael.

The former junior minister's strident comments came as senior Fine Gael figures concedeMr Kehoe said Fine Gael will fight the next election on a platform of "securing economic recovery". He said this new party will have to lay its policies before the people. "All parties and groups can lay out their policies and let the people decide," he said defiantly.

The Fine Gael chief whip would not speculate about how the new party would fare. But others conceded that in the current climate of public opinion it could cause them serious harm. "There is a turning away from all parties and this could well be to their advantage," one senior Fine Gael politician conceded.

Ms Creighton, who quit Fine Gael and the job of junior EU affairs minister over objections to the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act in July 2013, ended more than a year of speculation by yesterday announcing a timeline for the launch of a new political party. She was joined by financial commentator, Eddie Hobbs, and Independent Offaly county councillor John Leahy at a specially convened press conference.

A website under the maxim, "Rebooting Ireland" was also launched carrying details on how to help launch the new party and also submit names for prospective general election candidates. Last night Ms Creighton said her phone had not stopped ringing all day and the website almost crashed during the course of the afternoon.

"The number of people expressing interest has been huge. I believe there is a big appetite among the public for political change," Ms Creighton said.

The party's name and detailed policies are expected to emerge following the formal launch. But the founders outlined four "guiding principles" for what they described as a new political movement:

* Building a new economy that supports workers, entrepreneurs and small business.

* Fostering a new spirit in the public service which rewards hard work and effort to serve the people.

* Creating a new political system which allows freedom of thought, difference and independence.

* Government working for a minimum lifestyle standard by tackling unemployment, forced emigration and homelessness.

Ms Creighton said the current political system was "a generation past its sell-by date" and had generated five recessions inside the last five decades. She said the concepts of left and right in politics were outmoded and discredited. But Eddie Hobbs suggested that the party would be largely in the centre of the political spectrum.

Mr Hobbs said he was keen to see the party move beyond the realms of politicians already serving at Leinster House and would take a strong role in membership recruitment. But he did not rule out prospects of standing for election. Ms Creighton would not cite the names of other people who may be associated with the new party. Three of the five former FG TDs, who left in 2013 and formed the Reform Alliance", are expected to join. Wicklow TD, Billy Timmins, and Terrence Flanagan of Dublin North East, will be joined by Senators Fidelma Healy-Eames , and Paul Bradford who is also married to Ms Creighton.

Lucinda Creighton factfile

Born: Claremorris, Co Mayo.

Parents: Father a bookmaker and mother a schoolteacher

Education: Law degree from TCD where she was a member of Young Fine Gael. Later qualified as a barrister.

Electoral history: Elected to Dublin City Council in 2004 aged 24. Elected as a TD on her first attempt in the 2007 general election.

Subsequently appointed Minister of State for European Affairs.

Married: She married her party colleague Senator Paul Bradford in April 2011. They have a daughter.

Irish Independent

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