Leadership fight stays on the agenda as FG launch their think-in

DAMAGE: Party admits it's been bruised by Bruton revolt

THE damaging heave to topple Enda Kenny has remained on the Fine Gael agenda at the party think-in today.

Party leader Enda Kenny has admitted that the party went through a "difficult time in the summer" but insists it is not broken, despite very visible cracks at Faithlegg Hotel and Country Club, Co Waterford.

The bitter leadership battle has hung heavy in the background of the opposition party's annual think-in, with TDs and senators clearly still getting over the trauma.

The Herald understands that the issue of Richard Bruton's failed heave did come up behind closed doors as TDs and senators were split into workshop groups, but those who spoke, urged that it not be aired publicly again.

"There was a real feeling that you get away with what happened once, but if you tried something like that again, the public would never forgive you," said one TD.


Another source said: "The leadership issue is over because we're too close to an election now and it would be silly to go down that car crash route again.

"We're on an election footing now, so nothing should get in the way of that."

Mr Kenny acknowledged that both he and party were left bruised by the fallout but stressed that it was time to move on.

"It's fair to say that Fine Gael came through a difficult time in the summer. The party is strong enough and mature enough to have dealt with its decision within our own rules and we've now moved on to do what we must do which is remove Fianna Fail from office," he said. Although many of the so-called 'Green Isle Nine' who plotted against Mr Kenny did not show up for his opening remarks to the media, colleagues insisted it was merely a matter of timing.

Lucinda Creighton and John Deasy who openly questioned the party's attitude during the summer break appeared shortly after the photocall.

And dissident Richard Bruton was given a central place at the brainstorming sessions in Waterford where he outlined plans for public sector reform to his colleagues.

When asked how a broken party could fix a broken country, Mr Kenny replied: "This is not a broken party, this is a party with a clear and definite plan to fix a broken country.

"Remember it was the keepers of Ireland's responsibility, Bertie Ahern, Brian Cowen and latterly Brian Lenihan who announced plan after plan that were off the wall in terms of their correctness."


Asked if Fine Gael was a united party, Mr Kenny said: "Fine Gael is united in its effort and its concentration to deal with the problems of our country.

"In politics, it is always about people, people's attitudes, their perspectives. This party has its own rules and regulations and it has been strong enough and clear and mature enough to make its decision and we've moved on."

He added: "Even people who might have had a different view from me have said that quite openly and quite clearly. We are now focused on the job of removing this Government."