TAOISEACH Brian Cowen signalled his desire to make a clean break from the sleaze allegations which have surrounded Fianna Fáil in the past by announcing the party’s notorious fundraising tent at the Galway Races will not be in place this year.
The decision will also help distance Mr Cowen from the payments controversy surrounding his predecessor, Bertie Ahern.
Mr Cowen told a meeting of the Fianna Fáil national executive last night he would not be proceeding with the fundraiser.
“The tent at the Galway Races is gone for this year,” a party spokesman subsequently confirmed.
The announcement will help Mr Cowen recover some lost ground after the negative publicity surrounding his F-word gaffe earlier this week.
More importantly, it sends a signal that the Taoiseach wants to distance himself both from the tribunal controversy surrounding Mr Ahern and the general image of sleaze which has tainted the party down through the years.
Fianna Fáil has been associated with developers ever since it established its relatively short-lived, but infamous, “Taca” fundraising arm in the 1960s.
In recent years, the Galway tent became an annual source of controversy, with builders frequenting the event, leading to claims the party was too close to the construction industry.
Mr Cowen didn’t tell the national executive that he was canceling the event for good, however. He said he had asked party general secretary Sean Dorgan to carry out a complete review of the Fianna Fáil organisation — looking at issues such as membership and fundraising — and Galway would not be held while that review was ongoing.
“While that review is being undertaken, there will be no Galway Races event this year,” the spokesman said.
It will not be known until after the review whether the party will resume the fundraiser.
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