Fine Gael chief whip: Fianna Fáil has more power now

Fianna Fáil has more power now than it if it had entered a minority administration, the Government chief whip has suggested.

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty has also opened up about the “difficult” and “upsetting” response from her colleagues after she called for clarity around when the Taoiseach would step down.

Ms Doherty was then forced to clarify what she yesterday described as an “extremely ill-advised remark” made on LMFM and reiterate her support for Enda Kenny.

“I found it difficult to think that people would think I would be that two-faced, a Machiavellian type that would set him up,” she said. “I would think I would rather people think I was just a dope.”

Ms Doherty said: “There isn’t a secret agenda going on and the fact that people thought there was, it is upsetting, not that I am going crying into my soup or anything, but it is annoying because I have been a very vocal supporter of him in the last number of years.”

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School yesterday, Ms Doherty reiterated her support for Mr Kenny but admitted bad decisions were made during the last Dáil which damaged Fine Gael.

“Let me very clear on the issue of biting the hand that feeds me — I have been a loyal supporter of Enda Kenny since I was elected in 2009. I have defended every decision that he has made because it has always been with sincerity and integrity in the decisions that he has made over the last couple of years, albeit some of them have been electorally damaging to Fine Gael as a party,” she said.

Ms Doherty admitted that Fianna Fáil has been given considerable power in the current Dáil. “They have power right now and maybe more power right now than they would have if they were in a minority government.

“I know Micheál [Martin] desperately wants to be the Taoiseach... it’s a great ambition for any politician.”

Mr Kenny also attended the summer school last night where he made it clear that the upcoming budget will be shaped by the challenges posed by Brexit.

He said a second secretary general will be appointed to his department to deal specifically with Britain’s exit from Europe.

Foreign embassies will also be bolstered with more staff employed in London, Rome, Paris, and Berlin, he said.

Mr Kenny has also asked both Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe “to ensure that the upcoming budget in October is shaped by, and addresses, the challenges resulting from Brexit, and to set out a national economic response”.

He said there is a need to further strengthen the competitiveness of our personal and corporate tax regimes for mobile investment and skills.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin yesterday suggested the party will have a new leader within five years.

“Will Sinn Féin change the leader of our party? Yes, we will,” he said. “Is it going to happen in the next year or two? I don’t think so. Is it likely to happen in the next five years? I think that’s quite possible.”


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