Renua gets off to car crash start as Flanagan falters
IT's not even a day old, but one of Renua Ireland's key members gave what's being widely described as a car crash interview on the national airwaves.
Dublin TD Terence Flanagan was on RTE's Drivetime show to talk about the new party - the brainchild of his former Fine Gael colleague Lucinda Creighton - but was unable to answer a series of questions from host Mary Wilson.
"Renua is going to be very different. We're going to ensure that obviously what happened, what happened, emmm, will ensure," he said before stopping mid-sentence as he attempted to describe what the party represents.
"We want to renew Ireland for the better, show compassion and solidarity for the people," he said before sighing and going silent again.
Asked what type of party Renua intends to be, he replied that it would be "a party that's going to ensure promises" before he tailed off again.
Wilson was sympathetic towards the floundering politician during the interview, telling him at one point: "It's a big day for you, as you say."
She quizzed Mr Flanagan on Renua Ireland's tax policies, with the TD starting to answer "The PAYE worker" before a clicking noise was heard followed by silence.
"Terence, I think we'll leave it there for today," Wilson said before adding that they would discuss the issues again.
Speaking afterwards, the 40-year-old Dublin North East representative admitted it was not his finest hour.
"Everyone has their good interviews and their bad interviews. Unfortunately, this was a bad interview," Mr Flanagan told the Herald.
Renua Ireland members blitzed media outlets yesterday as the party finally unveiled its name and policies weeks after teasing the electorate with the hashtag Reboot Ireland.
Dublin South East deputy Creighton, the party leader, and finance guru Eddie Hobbs - who is continuing a will-he, won't-he stance on whether he'll run in the next election - appeared on the Late Late Show last night.
Earlier, the party launched with great fanfare with an event at Dublin's Science Gallery
Deputies Creighton, Flanagan and Wicklow TD Billy Timmins were expelled from Fine Gael in 2013 after voting against the Government's Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.
The new party will adopt what is described as "an open position on abortion", with its policy document saying that "no real democratic party or democratic system should interfere with an individual elected representative's values on matters of conscience."
Renua Ireland plans to field up to 60 general election candidates, with at least one contender in each of the 40 Dail constituencies.
The party also wants to make the content of Cabinet meetings public after 48 hours and set term limits for ministers.
Ms Creighton said they hope to quickly raise €500,000 in mainly small donations to build a national organisation.
Former Rip-Off Republic TV host Hobbs said he could not yet decide about being a candidate as family and work commitments meant much depended on when the election would be held.
Others in the party's ranks include Ms Creighton's husband, Senator Paul Bradford, and Independent Senator Mary Ann O'Brien.
Also prominent at the launch event was Ms O'Brien's husband, Jonathan Irwin, who founded the Jack & Jill children's charity and has declared his intention to contest a Dail seat in Kildare South.
Councillor Ronan McMahon, who polled more than 2,000 votes in the Dublin South-West by-election last October, and poll-topper John Leahy of Kilcormac, Co Offaly, were also on the stage, while Wexford-based journalist and child welfare expert Shane Dunphy is a likely election candidate.