An internal report into why Fine Gael lost the election does not name anyone and does not vilify any individual, the Irish Examiner can reveal.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s poor media performances, his mis-timing in calling the election, Fine Gael’s ill-judged election message on the economy, and an over-reliance on spin are among the factors that contributed to the party “losing the General Election”, two separate reports are to suggest.
The Irish Examiner has learnt that more than 400 interviews were carried out with TDs, senators, councillors, advisers, regional organisers, head office staff, and other interested parties in a bid to figure out why the party lost 26 seats.
Within the party most of the blame has been directed at five people — Enda Kenny, who made a series of gaffes during the campaign; general secretary Tom Curran over his handling of candidates; director of elections Brian Hayes over the stuttering campaign; and Mark Mortell and Andrew McDowell over the party’s economic message and slogan.
Fine Gael, in a bid to learn the mistakes of February’s election as well as the 2014 local elections when it suffered heavy losses, commissioned two reports to identify what went wrong.
Initially, the party had looked to Marion Coy, who heads the Fine Gael-linked thinktank The Michael Collins Institute, to produce a single independent report with the assistance of six Fine Gael elected members.
However, after clashes over the direction of the process, a separate internal report, carried out by five TDs — Alan Farrell, Maria Bailey, Kate O’Connell, Peter Burke, Patrick O’Donovan — and Senator Maura Hopkins was produced and given to Mr Kenny. This report is said to reflect widespread criticism of the party’s election messaging and slogan of “Let’s keep the recovery going”.
Sources close to the process have said the internal report is “positive and constructive” and does not place the blame on any individual.
Ms Coy was tasked by the Taoiseach to analyse the party’s general election campaign. Her report is not yet complete and is expected to be presented to Mr Kenny ahead of the party’s think-in in Newbridge next month, ahead of the Dáil’s return.
Ms Coy interviewed senior figures such as Tom Curran and Brian Hayes, but after she compiled a draft version of her work tensions emerged with the team of TDs.
This is because Ms Coy’s version is expected to recommend a series of sweeping changes to party structures.
Fine Gael TDs have voiced dissatisfaction with the way the election was run, questioning what they regard as the undue influence of senior officials and advisers.
Many TDs have told the inquiry of their desire to see a big a shift in power from party officials and advisers to elected representatives.
In a statement to the Irish Examiner, a Fine Gael spokeswoman said: “An independent report into the party’s election campaign, being prepared by Dr Marion Coy, is nearing completion. An internal report by Fine Gael TDs, which sought the views of party representatives and members, has been presented to Taoiseach Enda Kenny.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved