Controversial ex-Fine Gael adviser Frank Flannery, who was forced to cut his ties with the party over the Rehab charity scandal, has said Taoiseach Enda Kenny is “possibly” considering asking him to return.
Speaking since it emerged he met with Mr Kenny over Christmas, the long-time spin doctor said the option is there, but he has yet to be asked.
Weekend newspapers reported Mr Flannery as saying Fine Gael could lose 40 of its 69 Dáil seats — down from 76 in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 election — without his help.
While insisting he had been misquoted, the former adviser said he would be happy to assist in any way he could, if such an offer is made.
“Could I make a difference? Haven’t a clue. Has the party asked me to come back as a strategist? No, it hasn’t. Is it thinking about it? Possibly, I would say. Did the Taoiseach and me have a little chat recently? Yes, we did, factually correct.
“How did it start? It started by him when he was speaking to political correspondents before Christmas. He was asked the question ‘what about Frank Flannery’ and he answered it in quite a fulsome way. I, being the genial individual that I am, responded to that in a similar seasonal goodwill fashion.
“On foot of that we’ve resumed our chatting, to a certain extent, that we used to have, and so whether or not he wants to bring me back or asked me to, if he does I’ll certainly give it serious consideration,” he said.
Mr Flannery was forced to quit Fine Gael in March over links to the ongoing Rehab disability charity financial scandal. He has denied any wrongdoing over the case, which relates to millions of euro in public money.
When asked yesterday how he could consider returning when he had refused to come before the Dáil’s public accounts committee to discuss the issues, Mr Flannery denied that any refusal took place.
He said he “expressed great willingness” to attend once the PAC explained exactly what they wanted to question him about, due to his concerns that the issues fell outside their remit.
Mr Kenny said at the time of the affair — which is due to go before the High Court as ex-Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins also took exception, a move Mr Flannery said is “nothing to do with me” — that the adviser should meet the PAC.
However, Mr Flannery said this comment was made before he was “appraised of the reality”, and declined to say anything further.
The potential return of the powerful political figure has sparked much anger among those affected by the Rehab scandal, as well as conflicting views within Fine Gael itself.
While Children’s Minister and deputy party leader Dr James Reilly said he would welcome his return, other ministers declined to comment, while Kildare North TD Anthony Lawlor said his return is the “last thing” Fine Gael needs.
The issue comes as Fine Gael TDs and senators prepare to meet at the Davenport Hotel in Dublin city centre tomorrow, before returning from the Christmas break.
On Wednesday the Dáil will also debate a Fianna Fáil motion to change interest group lobbying laws — an area which is linked to the ex-adviser’s Rehab difficulties.
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