Enda Kenny gets Fine Gael report into poor election performance

An internal report by Fine Gael TDs on the party’s election campaign was handed to Taoiseach Enda Kenny 24 hours after the party’s final Dáil meeting before the summer break.

It is understood the report, compiled by backbenchers Kate O’Connell, Peter Burke, Alan Farrell, and Maria Bailey, was given to the Fine Gael leader last Thursday afternoon. It was expected it would not be ready until this week.

The document is one of two files examining why the party polled so poorly in the February 26 election. It was initially expected to be provided within the Dáil term to allow for a full discussion on its findings.

However, it was confirmed last week that it and a second independent report on the same issue would not be finished in time for a discussion before the recess — a claim that has now been called into question due to the fact the report was handed over a day after Fine Gael’s final Dáil term parliamentary party meeting.

It is understood Mr Kenny received the TDs’ report last Thursday, but has yet to give any indication as to when it will be provided to Fine Gael TDs and senators, as previously outlined.

A separate report, by Dr Marion Coy, who leads the Fine Gael thinktank the Michael Collins Institute, is also due to be received by Mr Kenny in the coming weeks.

Both documents are likely to cause significant debate within Fine Gael as they are focused on what went wrong for the party in the election campaign.

Dr Coy has been tasked with giving an overview of the campaign and what lessons need to be learnt in terms of how to get the party’s messages across to the public in the future.

The TDs’ report is focused solely on the views of back-bench and grassroots members, many of whom were frustrated by the party hierarchy’s decisions during the election, including the now scrapped slogan “keep the recovery going”.

While it is not expected that Mr Kenny will withhold the reports until September’s pre-Dáil term think-in, as this may negatively frame the start of the new Dáil term, it is as yet unclear when either document will be provided to members.

Kate O’Connell: One of the TDs who compiled the report
Kate O’Connell: One of the TDs who compiled the report

There is a belief Mr Kenny may send out the file to parliamentary party members by email over the 10-week break from Leinster House. However, the fact the reports have not been provided in time to be discussed at a party meeting means the issue is likely to spill over into the next Dáil term.

Despite holding a commanding lead in the polls in the lead-up to the February 26 general election, Fine Gael lost 26 seats and saw its support drop to just 50 TDs.

While this still left Fine Gael as the largest party in the Dáil, the lack of a clear winner in the election led to weeks of instability as discussions took place with Independents and Fianna Fáil on the formation of the government and, ultimately, a “new politics” system many believe is unstable and unlikely to last the full term.

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