Fine Gael ‘think-in’ to focus on election planning and coalition talks

Election planning and proposals for a special conference to approve going into any future coalition in government will form part of discussions at this week’s Fine Gael pre-Dáil conference.

Paschal Donohoe: Presentation on investing in services

Leo Varadkar will deliver a speech today live on Facebook, themed around what he has deemed should be a ‘Republic of Opportunity’ for Ireland going foward.

While ministers will outline preparations for next month’s budget, there will also be a presentation on populism and a warning that Fine Gael should avoid trying to buy-off voters with fake promises.

TDs, senators and ministers will gather for the two-day event in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, ahead of the Dáil returning next week.

After TDs and ministers arrive this morning, the Taoiseach will deliver a speech to the conference which is expected to mention the economy and the upcoming budget.

Mr Varadkar is expected to pledge that, if there is scope in the budget, that it will “benefit those on middle incomes who pay the highest rates of tax on far too modest incomes”.

The Taoiseach will also make a commitment to “steadily increase” overseas development aid as well as pay tribute to the independent members of Government

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will deliver a presentation on investing in services and capital projects while Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will outline changes and preparation ahead for the expected one million increase in Ireland’s population by 2040. This includes plans under the National Planning Framework.

Separately, elected representatives will discuss future elections, including preparation for a possible snap general election. Senior party sources confirmed the meeting will also include a discussion on hosting a special delegate conference where there would be a vote on any future coalition involving Fine Gael.

Promised reform in the party, outlined by Mr Varadkar in his leadership election bid, will also be discussed as will future financing for election campaigns and candidate selection conventions.

These behind-closed-doors discussions will be led by Fine Gael deputy leader Simon Coveney,general secretary Tom Curran as well as the party’s executive council chairman Gerry O’Connell tomorrow.

Elsewhere, the party will also hear a presentation from guest speaker Emmanuelle Schon-Quinlivan of University College Cork, who will give a speech on populism and lessons learnt from recent European elections.

The speech is expected to focus on recent election outcomes in the Netherlands and France but also how nationalist fronts and populist voices initially dominated campaigns there.

Dr Schon-Quinlivan is expected to suggest Fine Gael should not go down the road of old politics, of making unrealistic election promises and should instead honestly address challenges that it believes can be overcome.

The academic’s speech also comes ahead of elections in Germany next week where a right-wing party called Alternative to Germany looks set to become the first major anti-foreigner party since the Second World War to enter the Bundestag parliament.

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