Saturday 24 February 2018

Fine Gael National Conference

Delegates have their tails up as party faithful come out fighting after Seanad vote debacle

Lise Hand

Lise Hand

THE Taoiseach was 20 minutes into his leader's speech on Saturday night when he announced the end-date of Ireland's occupation by foreign powers: "And so this evening, let me confirm to you that Ireland is on track to exit the EU-IMF bailout on December 15, 2013," he declared.

There was loud applause from the delegates, and a bit of cheering. It was the closest that Fine Gael members ever get to rowdy acclaim – they prefer to leave the yeehaw and yabba dabba doo stuff to whom they regard as the neanderthal rednecks of Fianna Fail.

But make no mistake about it – Blueshirt tails were rising at their national conference like a pale moon above the green mountains. There was an almost-forgotten scent in the Limerick air: a potpourri of optimism and confidence mixed with a dollop of self-satisfaction and a soupcon of skittishness.

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