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Scramble to get early dig into FF

Only a couple of dozen hardy souls turned up bright and early on Saturday morning for the usually dull Fine Gael constitution and rules session. Not bothered by the size of his audience, Fine Gael Cork South-Central TD Jerry Buttimer still saw it as an opportunity to launch a rocket at Fianna Fail.

"Haughey, Reynolds, Ahern; Kenny, Noonan, Bruton, Dukes -- look at the difference," he said. Maybe the difference is the Fianna Fail leaders got shafted by their party when they were the Taoiseach, but the Fine Gael leaders had heaves initiated while in opposition.

Varadkar spreads joys of spring

Leo Varadkar: eternal pessimist. The Tourism Minister was spreading the joys of spring around the ard fheis.

He followed up his declaration he is "always a glass half-empty kind of guy" with the downbeat suggestion that "two swallows don't make a summer".

Coveney handed referendum whip

Simon Coveney has been put in charge of Fine Gael's campaign for a Yes vote in the EU fiscal compact referendum.

The appointment by Taoiseach Enda Kenny was announced at the ard fheis, and the Agriculture Minister said he is going to "crack a whip like you haven't seen before" for a referendum. Mr Coveney also said the treaty will be easier to explain than previous treaties like Nice and Lisbon.

A little too late for that Mitchell fella

PLENTY of back slapping at the weekend about Fine Gael's general election triumph, but little mention of that other election. "We don't talk about that," one party staffer said. "Wasn't it Fianna Fail who ran that Mitchell fella anyway?"

In a review of party rules agreed at the weekend, Fine Gael is going to think about giving the grassroots members a say in the selection of the presidential election candidates in future. A bit late now ... ..

Shatter speaks of his home break-in

Alan Shatter spoke of the recent break-in at his Dublin home at the ard fheis. During a speech on Saturday, the justice minister said "there were just over 2,000 more burglaries than in 2010".

"It is, of course, no secret that my wife Carol and I will feature in the 2012 crime statistics as victims of this crime."

Irish Independent