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Letter: Fine Gael must return to traditional base and forget about appealing to trendy urban voters

Letters to the Editor


Roots: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar canvassing with local Fine Gael candidate Peter Burke in Tyrellspass, Co Westmeath. Picture: Arthur Carron.

Roots: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar canvassing with local Fine Gael candidate Peter Burke in Tyrellspass, Co Westmeath. Picture: Arthur Carron.

Roots: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar canvassing with local Fine Gael candidate Peter Burke in Tyrellspass, Co Westmeath. Picture: Arthur Carron.

Despite the General Election results there is no appetite within the Fine Gael parliamentary party to challenge Leo Varadkar's leadership.

Mr Varadkar must take advantage of his second chance (an all-too-rare occurrence in modern politics) and make hay while the sun shines.

In the short term, as many astute TDs are arguing, Fine Gael must accept the voters' message and occupy the opposition benches, rejecting confidence and supply with a Fianna Fáil-led government, which would consign Fine Gael to irrelevancy and bolster Sinn Féin's 'anti-establishment alternative' appeal in the next election campaign.

In the long term, Fine Gael needs to offer a substantive right-of-centre alternative.

This means:

a) abandoning the fruitless pursuit of trendy urban Green, Labour and Social Democrat voters who did not and will not vote for Fine Gael;

b) returning to its traditional base of farmers, small business owners, social moderates, the middle-class, and rural voters, whose concerns have taken a back seat to the aforementioned strategy;

c) making a serious pitch to working-class voters that shows how a centre-right vision and their concerns need not and should not be mutually exclusive. If lessons are required, I suggest a ferry across the Irish Sea, where the UK's Conservatives enjoy an overwhelming parliamentary majority and continue to earn the support of almost 50pc of the electorate in opinion polls.

Stephen Shine

Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny

Poll result was backwards step disguised as reform

Let's tally a recent election:

:: A citizenry fed up with two ineffectual ruling parties;

:: A public wanting to 'send a message', protesting the pressure on wages and a sense of being ignored;

:: A rural, working-class resentful of the urban, coastal, educated elites;

:: A nationalistic fervour, promising to unite a republic in glory;

:: A deep suspicion for the motives of the largest trading partner;

:: The overt support of militarised, armed factions;

:: Emboldened supporters chanting previously taboo slogans in public.

Would we be talking about Trump 2016? Or Sinn Féin 2020?

Another backwards step disguised as political reform.

Dave Miller

Salthill, Co Galway

Centre still more popular with voters than Shinners

Despite the surge in support for Sinn Féin, significantly more of the electorate voted for the centrist policies of Fianna Fáil and Fianna Gael.

Yeats was right: if the centre cannot hold, things will fall apart.

Chris Fitzpatrick

Terenure, Dublin

Another election needed to decide spending route

The result of the election is being discussed all over the media and within and between the political parties, but the point of the result is being missed.

Given the result of this election, this country is ungovernable.

What we need now is another election in which the people of this country are going to have to make up their minds if they want a higher spending government or a lower spending government.

Do we want the risks and uncertainties of high spending, the results of which we saw in 2010 when the country went broke and had to be bailed out?

Alternatively, do we want a continuation of the less-than-perfect public services we had since the collapse in 2010 for a bit longer, but with the country living within its means and not in danger of going broke again if things outside our control like Brexit go wrong?

A clear decision on that is needed.

That needs another election.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13

Tipp for next government - be careful who helps you

While it looks like a debate over the make-up of the next government will rage for the near future, I would hope there would be some consensus amongst all our political parties that politicians like Noel Grealish or Verona Murphy will not be invited to support any new administration.

This principle should also be extended to Michael Lowry, who undoubtedly leveraged his support for the outgoing government to extend his influence.

Fine Gael's failure, at a national level, to target Mr Lowry's candidacy has been responsible, more than any other factor, for the party's failure to return a TD for the Tipperary constituency in the last two elections.

PJ O Meara

Cahir, Co Tipperary

Self-serving governance has seen rich get richer

I am a socialist at heart - equal rights and equal opportunities for all. The Proclamation states: "We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland."

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil appear to have kept the cake for themselves. The rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer - imagine them continually occupying front-row seats at the Aviva with Champagne etc, while others have standing room only!

I do hope Sinn Féin gets into a position where it is in control, Brexit is done and Ireland gets a good result.

It's time now to fix the scandals of rampant social inequality, the famine of housing for families and the homeless, rent 'Rachmannism', the sick health service that cannot heal its citizens, crime and more that are coming down the road.

True democracy states the majority prioritises its minority. I believe this has been the devil in the detail of our woes.

Media coverage of interviews clearly confirms this state of denial at the top tables of the 'F' parties (Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil).

The indolence of dynasties.

This gathering Storm 'Patrick' in the State is, I believe, the result of decades of self-serving governance on their watch.

Frank O'Neill

Shankill, Dublin

Ireland must come first in government formation

Now we are being told by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that Sinn Féin would be dangerous as a government.

One really has to wonder if Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin actually know how the Constitution serves the people, via the President and the Council of State.

As with any political party since 1923, a Sinn Féin government would be constrained by constitutional bounds.

The best way to be done with the past is to bring all political parties into the democratic/constitutional process.

They can then fail or rise on that process. Long past time Ireland came first.

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

Double standards exist in row over gender equality

With reference to your report "Women don't seem to be given the same second chance as men in the Dáil" (Irish Independent, February 11), another way of looking at this is that most voters, men and women alike, have enough good sense not to let themselves be greatly influenced by the opinions of feminist-minded politicians and media commentators when deciding for whom to vote.

As for those who talk of a supposed 'need' for gender balance in the Dáil and other work settings where men are currently in the majority, it's interesting to note that they don't seem to perceive anything like the same degree of 'need' for this in professions where women are in the majority.

Teaching is an obvious - though not the only - example here, where the percentage of teachers who are female has been rising steadily since the early 1970s at both primary and secondary levels, with the result that, as of now, nearly 90pc of primary teachers are female.

During roughly the same time span, boys have been increasingly falling behind girls academically.

Where is the concern in gender equality and public policy circles - not to mention the mainstream media - about this? Isn't there a double standard at work here?

Hugh Gibney

Athboy, Co Meath

Irish Independent