herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Kenny's media performance during campaign to be part of independent FG review

Taoiseach Enda Kenny should contact Fianna Fail, said Fine Gael's former leader Alan Dukes (pictured) Photo: Mark Condren
Taoiseach Enda Kenny should contact Fianna Fail, said Fine Gael's former leader Alan Dukes (pictured) Photo: Mark Condren

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's "poor media performances" during the election campaign and the centralised powers of his close advisory team will form part of an independent review of Fine Gael's poor performance.

The outcome, which saw the party lose 26 Dail seats, deeply disappointed and angered many of the Fine Gael rank-and-file and backbench TDs.

It has been agreed that Dr Marion Coy, who heads the Fine Gael-linked think-tank the Michael Collins Institute, will conduct the review.

Deadlock

News of the post-mortem came as former party leader Alan Dukes said Mr Kenny should make contact with Fianna Fail in an effort to end the deadlock on government formation.

Mr Dukes said he understood Mr Kenny needed to be seen to exhaust all other coalition possibilities, but both parties needed to work together.

Ms Coy, a former head of the Galway and Mayo Institute of Technology, is known to the party leadership, but a Fine Gael source said she is independent of the hierarchy and capable of doing an "arm's-length" review.

The review was one of the outcomes of a four-hour meeting in Dublin of local directors of elections and party chairs from all 40 constituencies.

Among the issues covered were media performances by several key people, including Mr Kenny in the leaders' debates and other headline outings.

"The meeting was plain-spoken and quite frank at times. Two delegates asked about Mr Kenny's media performances and suggested there were problems associated with them," one participant told the Herald.

Mr Kenny will brief TDs and senators tomorrow on the progress of a promised review of the party's election performance.

There is continued anger that reviews of the October 2011 presidential election campaign were not carried out.

In that election, Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell attracted a very poor vote against a background of a huge general election triumph only months earlier.

A promised review of reversals suffered in the May 2014 local elections also failed to materialise.

Participants in Saturday's meeting were also focused on how the party could have lost four percentage points in the election compared with opinion polls a week earlier.

Inflexible

There was also some questioning about whether leadership structures are "too tight".

One source said a great deal of decision-making power is concentrated with the Taoiseach and his advisers.

"There are questions about whether this contributed to an unduly inflexible approach and a lack of discussion and feedback," the source said.

Mr Dukes as Fine Gael leader was the author of the Tallaght Strategy that allowed a minority Fianna Fail government to rule between 1987 and 1989.

"I think Enda Kenny should pick up the phone or get one of his people to pick up the phone," he said

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