Friday 20 April 2018

Party think-ins - the key issues

Q Fine Gael Heritage Hotel, Killenard, Co Laois

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will have to pull together a party that has been strained by the passing of the abortion legislation. There will be no place for the five TDs and two senators who lost the whip by voting against the party – and it is unlikely that Mr Kenny will be offering them an olive branch. But the Budget will be the big focus, with some Fine Gael TDs opposed to Labour demands to reduce the Budget adjustment target of €3.1bn.

The stakes are also high for Fine Gael in the Seanad abolition referendum. A defeat would be damaging for the larger coalition party.

Q Labour Johnstown House Hotel, Enfield, Co Meath

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is under severe pressure to achieve a result for the party in the forthcoming Budget. Over half of the party's TDs would lose their seats if the latest 10pc opinion poll rating was replicated in the general election.

To prevent things getting any worse, Mr Gilmore will have to convince them that he will achieve his stated objective of reducing the Budget adjustment target below €3.1bn – and lessening the impact of social welfare and education cuts. TDs are due to get behind-closed-doors presentations on the Budget preparations from Labour ministers such as Joan Burton and Brendan Howlin.

Q Fianna Fail The Tower Hotel, Waterford city

The party has been buoyed by its recovery in the latest Red C opinion poll – after taking a knock as voters got a reminder of the past with the Irish Independent's Anglo Tapes revelations.

As a sign of its commitment towards more responsible economic management, it has invited in economist Colm McCarthy and Donal Donovan of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.

Fianna Fail, under its director of elections, Niall Collins TD, will be pushing for a big 'No' vote from its members in the Seanad referendum to embarrass the Government. And it will also be lining up candidates for the local elections next year.

Irish Independent

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