Monday 18 December 2017

TDs to review Mitchell election disaster

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE first Fine Gael post-mortem into Gay Mitchell's disastrous presidential election campaign will take place tomorrow night when TDs return to Leinster House -- but it's unclear if Mr Mitchell will attend.

The meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party will be the first opportunity for TDs, senators and MEPs to discuss the electoral drubbing, which saw Mr Mitchell get just 6.4pc of first preference votes.

As an MEP, Mr Mitchell is entitled to attend the weekly meetings in Leinster House.

He did not return calls last night but it is thought unlikely he will return from the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

"There will be a meeting of the parliamentary party at the usual time of half five on a Wednesday," chairman Charlie Flanagan, also Mr Mitchell's director of elections, said.

"The agenda hasn't been settled yet but it is most likely there will be a discussion on the presidential election."


It was widely known that the party leadership would have preferred Pat Cox or Mairead McGuinness to be the Fine Gael candidate, but Mr Mitchell won the selection convention. However, sources said the party hierarchy was unlikely to adopt an 'I told you so' approach.

"I'll say Enda Kenny will just try and put it to bed, there's no point in having a go at people anyway," one minister said. "They'll know themselves they messed up."

Another TD said he didn't expect Mr Mitchell to be at tomorrow's meeting.

"No, he probably won't be there but I half expected him to turn up, have a go at all of us and say it was our fault," he said.

Others expressed surprise that Mr Mitchell didn't want to be seen with Mr Kenny during the election as he feared it would alienate Fianna Fail voters.

"I couldn't believe that," one backbench TD said. "Kenny is our biggest asset."

Meanwhile, Michael D Higgins will perform his first presidential function next Friday night in Galway.

However it has nothing to do with his impending move to Aras an Uachtarain but rather his role as president of Galway United FC.

He will be there when they take on Monaghan United at Terryland Park in a play-off in the Airtricity League.

"It will be a crucial match and hopefully we can win it," he said.

Irish Independent

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