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Kenny silent as Frank Flannery hints at return to FG

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Frank Flannery

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Frank Flannery

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Frank Flannery

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is remaining tight-lipped over claims by former strategist Frank Flannery that Fine Gael is considering asking him to return to the party fold.

Mr Kenny declined to comment on the matter during his visit to Paris yesterday, telling reporters that he "did not come here to talk about anything like that".

But he is expected to be openly challenged about the prospect of Mr Flannery's return when Fine Gael TDs attend a special mini think-in tomorrow.

important

Mr Flannery said yesterday he would give "serious consideration" to any request for him to return in an advisory role, and said Fine Gael is "possibly" considering such a move.

"Whether or not Enda Kenny wants to bring me back as a strategist . . . if he does I'll certainly give it serious consideration because I think the next election is going to be probably the most important in any of our lifetimes," he said.

The prospect of Mr Flannery being handed an advisory role has met with mixed reactions within the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

Several backbenchers have voiced opposition to the move, while deputy leader James Reilly said he would "absolutely" welcome Mr Flannery's return.

Speaking to the Herald last night, Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said Mr Flannery's return would provide a "huge shot in the arm" ahead of the upcoming general election.

"Like our deputy leader James Reilly, I would very much welcome Frank Flannery's return," he said.

"Frank is Fine Gael to his fingertips, he has spent a great deal of his adult life working for Fine Gael and knows all of what Fine Gael is about."

Tomorrow's Fine Gael meeting is the first to take place this year.

Some TDs feel deeply uneasy about the impact of Mr Flannery's return to the fold given his association with the Rehab controversy.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had been seeking to question Mr Flannery about his involvement with Rehab, the state-funded charity and commercial group for which he acted as a lobbyist in recent years.

However, a ruling by the Oireachtas Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP) meant he did not have to appear before the spending watchdog.

Mr Flannery said the PAC members had embarked on a "totally extra-legal pursuit".

Significantly, he suggested that Mr Kenny is no longer of the view that he should appear in front of PAC.

reality

When it was pointed out to Mr Flannery yesterday that the Taoiseach said in March that he should appear, Mr Flannery replied: "But that was before he was apprised of the reality. He hasn't said anything about it since.

"He certainly is aware of the decision of the Committee on Procedures and Privileges, as indeed every member of the Dail should be, because that effectively settled the issue."

Mr Kenny said in March that he believed Mr Flannery should appear in front of the PAC to answer questions about the Rehab controversy.

See pages 14-15


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