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FG candidates feel heat over Shatter debacle

FINE Gael local election candidates in Dublin are suffering from voter anger on the doorsteps over the scandals surrounding Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Coalition party candidates have told their leadership that the Government's handling of the garda controversies is damaging their campaigns.

In the week that Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan resigned, concerns were expressed at Fine Gael meetings in Mr Shatter's South Dublin heartland.

The minister got muted support at the party's annual general meeting in his own constituency of Dublin South.

DEPRESSED

A member proposed a motion supporting the minister, which was parked until the full situation emerged.

Canvassers at the meeting in The Goat Bar, near Dundrum, said they were enduring "a difficult time" and there was a "change of tone".

"The mood was fairly depressed and downcast. We are a long way from the Ard Fheis. There is no cheering from the rafters," a party source told the Herald.

At the Dublin South-East AGM, members said it was a "very worrying time", with one party activist declaring: "I'm concerned about my Republic."

The meeting at the Hampton Court Hotel in Donnybrook on Tuesday night heard a great deal of disquiet from members.

The party hierarchies are keen to move on from the affair amid growing fears that the ground being lost cannot be made up in the eight weeks to May 23.

Labour is also suffering as a result of the fall-out surrounding Mr Shatter, even though he is a Fine Gael minister.

"Shatter's name has come up and members have said so. They are latching on to what the news agenda is. It's impossible to understand," a senior party source said.

CONFUSED

"Shatter's name is coming up and not in a good way. It's not helpful to the campaign."

A Fine Gael TD said: "Canvassers are reporting a bad reception on the doors. It tarnished the image. People are confused. It's his personality that's destroying him."

Mr Shatter is facing a motion of no-confidence in the Dail next week.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin tabled the motion yesterday, meaning it will be debated on Tuesday and Wednesday.

He called on coalition TDs to "reflect" before voting for Mr Shatter, who he says has been "running scared" over a range of controversies.

Mr Martin was highly critical of the failure of the Government to provide basic information on the garda taping scandal this week.

NOCONNOR@HERALD.IE


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