FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny was accused last night of being presumptuous for texting that his party would soon be in power.
He sent out the message to the party faithful as his greeting for the New Year -- after having survived a leadership heave last year.
"When the people give us their trust, we will not let them down. Fine Gael will deliver for our people and the national interest," he said. The message was signed: "Enda Kenny, Party leader".
Fine Gael Cork South West TD Jim O'Keeffe said there was now no debate about Mr Kenny's position as leader of the party.
"He's clearly proved himself to be a strong survivor and the expectation of the party, and indeed most of the country, is that he's going to be the next Taoiseach," he said.
But Mr Kenny's text message was attacked as presumptuous by Fianna Fail Dublin South Central TD Michael Mulcahy, who said that it appeared that the Fine Gael leader was assuming he would be soon in power.
"Nobody should ever pre-judge the electorate. It's a ticket to disaster," he said.
It came as Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan was forced to deny there was any policy of hiding away Mr Kenny, who struggled in high-profile media interviews late last year.
"No, no. He's been out a lot actually on other issues. That's the propaganda all the time from Fianna Fail and Labour," he said in a recent interview.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael continued its preparations for the General Election at a packed selection convention for the Cork South West constituency on Sunday night. There were seven candidates competing for just two nominations to replace sitting TDs Jim O'Keeffe and PJ Sheehan.
Mr Sheehan's son, Cllr Dermot Sheehan failed to win a nomination at the convention in the Parkway Hotel, Dunmanway, which was attended by almost 1,000 Fine Gael members.
Those selected were Skibbereen-based councillor Jim Daly and Bantry-based councillor Noel Harrington. But Fine Gael headquarters are expected to add a third candidate to ensure it has someone running from the Bandon area. Those in the frame are Tim Cowhig, a wind-energy businessman; and Cllr Kevin Murphy.
Fine Gael will be fighting to hold on to its two seats in the three-seater constituency, while Labour Senator Michael McCarthy and Fianna Fail Senator Denis O'Donovan will be competing with sitting Fianna Fail TD Christy O'Sullivan.