Leo Varadkar tells party meeting he believes Frances Fitzgerald will be vindicated

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the weekly Fine Gael party meeting in Leinster House that he believes Frances Fitzgerald did nothing wrong and that she will be vindicated.

After a week where the former tánaiste’s actions brought the country close to a snap general election, Mr Varadkar told his party he hoped Ms Fitzgerald would return to the top level of politics.

His comments come after the former tánaiste’s resignation following the controversy over her handling of emails citing a garda strategy to discredit whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Mr Varadkar told the meeting she had done nothing wrong and he thought her name would be “vindicated”.

Party sources said that Ms Fitzgerald in an emotional address described how she had worked in Leinster House as a TD for years and that she was also happy an election had been averted.

It is understood that TDs and senators spoke for over an hour, mainly praising her and also complaining about how he was treated.

Some spoke about people using the Dáil as a star chamber. Other suggested she had experienced a “trial by media”.

During the long discussions though, Ms Fitzgerald did not apologise or say she regretted what the party had been put through. It is understood that no one member criticised her.

Furthermore, the Taoiseach also spoke to his party about the turbulent political week where Fianna Fáil nearly forced an election unless Ms Fitzgerald resigned.

Party chairman Martin Heydon said: “He said the issue of the last week was not about winning or losing but about getting the truth and showing loyalty to a party colleague.”

TDs and even junior ministers this week told the Irish Examiner that they believe she “betrayed” them and “damaged” the party.

Several TDs privately said yesterday they would not speak out as Fine Gael has only completed around half its 40 general election selection conventions. Others said they were deeply unhappy that Frances Fitzgerald had not resigned before the weekend.

“A lot of people haven’t gone through convention. Would you give out to him? No way,” one part source explained.

TDs also noted the issue of Ms Fitzgerald’s forced resignation was not even on the party agenda for the weekly meeting last night. Instead, a talk from Education Minister Richard Bruton was on the agenda.

“It is real head in the sand stuff,” said a FG senator.

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