Monday 27 January 2020

Varadkar asks FG members to rate his ministers in review

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Photo: Frank McGrath
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Photo: Frank McGrath
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is asking Fine Gael members to rate his ministers' performances on key issues including justice, health and housing.

A private polling company has been commissioned to carry out a wide-ranging review of the party's priorities, including whether it should contest a presidential election.

Mr Varadkar is also asking supporters whether the Government should focus on increasing pensions, social welfare, spending on public services or reducing income tax and USC ahead of the next Budget.

Amid growing talk of a potential general election, the survey instructions tell members that Fine Gael bosses want to use their "political judgment in looking at what you believe to be important in swaying public opinion".

A section of the study, compiled by CST International, asks how the Government and individual ministers are performing.

Respondents are asked to offer ratings between 'very poor' and 'very well' on topics including crime, healthcare, the Eighth Amendment, the cost of housing, and homelessness.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has issued a survey to Fine Gael members asking them what they want the party to prioritise
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has issued a survey to Fine Gael members asking them what they want the party to prioritise

The responses are likely to be closely monitored by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, Health Minister Simon Harris and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who are all in the Opposition firing line.

However, in an email Mr Varadkar assures members that their responses will remain confidential.

"I am asking you to complete the survey, because your opinion really matters.

"You are the heart and soul of our party, and, as someone who came up through the ranks, that is something I never forget."

He adds: "The survey is anonymous. Only the aggregated opinions of all respondents will be used; no individual responses will be identified.

"When the survey is analysed, we will write back to you summarising the most important and salient points."

In a section on party priorities, the survey sets a scale between 'not important' and 'extremely important'.

It questions whether Fine Gael should impose tougher sentences for convicted criminals, and if new steps should be taken to enhance children's safety online.

In recent days it has emerged that Mr Vardakar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe are keen for October's Budget to shift focus from tax cuts towards State-funded benefits for working families.

The questionnaire seeks to gauge the view of party members on how the Government should approach the Budget.

It asks if the Cabinet should do more to increase pensions, increase social welfare, increase spending on public services or reduce income tax and USC.

In an attempt to avoid a repeat of Fine Gael's ill-fated election slogan 'Keep The Recovery Going', Mr Varadkar has issued a series of questions about people's view of the economic revival.

He wants to know whether members believe the upsurge is being felt "across the country".

In his message, the Taoiseach says: "The feedback initiative is part of a commitment I made to create a more open and inclusive party, one that actively seeks out the opinions of its members and takes them into account when developing and implementing government policy."

CST International is a Dublin-based company which engages in brand research and customer experience analytics.

It has given Fine Gael members until later this week to reply through an online portal.

As well as national issues, the survey asks whether members are "proud to tell people I support Fine Gael", and if the party's selection conventions are viewed as being fair.

Irish Independent

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