Friday 21 September 2018

Kenny still hopes to fight off rebellion as FG trawls the bottom

FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny is hoping to quell party disquiet at a meeting of TDs and senators tonight.

The embattled politician is expected to face tough questions about the party's poor ratings in opinion polls at a parliamentary party in Leinster House.

Dublin TDs are said to be particularly worried about their prospects at the next election after Labour surged ahead in the polls.

But Mr Kenny remains defiant in his stance that his party's standings will improve as an election nears.

Sources say that recent attempts by rebels to encourage "middle-ground TDs and senators" to persuade Mr Kenny to step aside have not gathered significant momentum.

And the Mayo man now wants to take the sting out of the internal bitterness before the annual Fine Gael Presidential Dinner on Saturday night.

"I think people need to calm down, keep their heads down working and everybody concentrate on getting out the important message that Fianna Fail has to go," said a source.

"We are too close to an election to be damaging our own reputation with this fighting."

Last night, Mr Kenny issued a strong statement in which he completely ruled out any chance of offering the Government a new version of the Tallaght Strategy.

In a statement issued on behalf of his frontbench, Mr Kenny said the concept of a national government "simply does not arise".


But the move to completely rule out a second Tallaght Strategy could also cause some conflict tonight.

Earlier this week, backbencher Lucinda Creighton wrote a blog claiming her party would be "well advised" to consider such a deal.

"Irish people are increasingly deflated and despairing. If they see some patriotism and true leadership coming from Opposition Deputies, I have no doubt but that the entire country will rise to the enormous challenges which face us," she said.

However, Mr Kenny has quashed the idea with a lengthy statement in which he says that Fine Gael will suggest its own way of reducing the national deficit to 3pc by 2014.

He also signalled that once in government his party is likely to rewrite the four-year budgetary plan that will be announced by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan next month.

"Fine Gael believes that the adjustment needs to be frontloaded but only to the point where it delivers lower international interest rates on Government borrowing, at the cost of the minimum impact on growth.

"This will be a difficult judgment call but Fine Gael will make an independent decision and will not be bound by the Government's targets which they intend setting in November," the statement said.

It added that "the context is now different" from when the original Tallaght agreement was signed.


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