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Former Tánaiste denies Maurice McCabe saga is undermining election bid

Former justice minister Frances Fitzgerald has denied the Maurice McCabe saga is undermining her European elections bid, claiming the case is not being raised by voters.

Ms Fitzgerald said the treatment of the garda whistleblower has already been “dealt with very comprehensively” and claimed voters believe she “acted appropriately” just hours out from tomorrow’s vote.

Speaking at a Fine Gael campaign event which also heard Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty claim voters will not “punish” the Government for the housing crisis, Ms Fitzgerald paused before denying she is at risk in the polls.

What I think the view of the public is in relation to that issue is that Judge Charleton dealt with it very comprehensively, after an extremely long time where he heard from everybody.

“He conclusively decided I acted appropriately and that it was in fact in the interests of the country when I resigned,” she said.

Ms Fitzgerald was forced from office in December 2017 amid public and political uproar over her handling of a series of issues surrounding garda whistleblower Mr McCabe. However, asked if voters are raising the case with her during canvasses, the Fine Gael MEP candidate for Dublin claimed they were not, saying:

“Not particularly. I find the vast majority of people are saying to me they’re quite unhappy at the way it was handled actually, in terms of really what was in effect the opposition deciding that I had to resign.

“But I did it in the interests of the country because I didn’t want to see an election at that time. I think there is a lot of lessons for a lot of people to learn from those events, actually.”

Meanwhile, speaking at the same event, Fine Gael’s European director of elections and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty denied voters will “punish” the Government over the housing crisis on Friday.

“Housing is still an issue, we recognise that. It is one of our largest priorities. If it wasn’t coming up on the doors I think there would be something wrong.

“I really don’t think that people are going to punish us. People are engaging with us. Yes, they are being critical of some policies but that does not mean that there is an anger out there, or there is a want for change,” she said.

Ms Doherty separately said she does not believe it was bad timing for Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to raise his deeply divisive co-living accommodation plans, claiming concerns have only been raised because “the opposition would row with their own fingernails”.

  • At the same press conference:

  • divorce referendum director of elections and Culture Minister Josepha Madigan urged voters not to take Friday’s vote for “granted”;
  • Fine Gael MEP candidate for Dublin Mark Durkan called for voters to back pro-EU candidates to prevent Nigel Farage having his “Gloaty McGloaty-face” appearance next week;
  • Ms Doherty defended running Maria Walsh as a candidate in Midlands North West, despite the fact she is a political novice contesting a crucial Brexit election;
  • and ministers defended Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey’s right to sue over her swing accident.

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