ANGRY debate was avoided at the conference when controversial proposals to give party headquarters greater control over election candidates were deferred until the autumn.
Fine Gael’s executive council had put forward a number of motions for consideration on Saturday morning which, if passed, would have tightened headquarters’ grip on candidate selection.
But headquarters, perhaps recognising the potential for divisive debate at a time when the party was keen to show a united front, arranged for the motions to be deferred.
They will now be considered at a special delegates’ conference in the autumn.
But the executive council succeeded in getting one contentious motion passed. It proposed that the council would have the power to determine the composition of the MEP replacement list — ie, the person who would be nominated to replace an MEP if he or she stepped down from office before his or her term expired.
Delegate Jonathan Hoare from the Baile Bhuirne/Cuil Aodha branch opposed the motion, arguing it would give “too much” power to the executive council.
But Barry Walsh of Young Fine Gael, supporting the motion, said the executive council already had the power to decide the replacement list. The motion merely sought to put that power “in black and white so that nobody can doubt it”, he said. The motion was passed.
Meanwhile, party leader Enda Kenny indicated he disagreed with his parliamentary party on another motion which was also deferred.
The motion proposed by the parliamentary party — ie, its TDs and senators — sought to remove the “one member, one vote” system at conventions.
Instead, each of the first 20 members of every branch would have got a vote, and every five subsequent members would have got one vote between them.
But Mr Kenny said yesterday: “I am in favour of one man, one vote.”
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