FINE GAEL has rebuffed criticism by former party leader Alan Dukes over its plans for a “good bank”, calling his opinion “nonsense”.
There were calls yesterday for Mr Dukes to step aside as party vice-president as party members voted to back their proposal for a “good bank”.
TDs and Senators who gathered for the Fine Gael think-in in Cavan said they had felt disappointed and could not believe what Mr Dukes had said.
Mr Dukes has described his party’s plans to set up a “good bank”, or National Recovery Bank, as “very cumbersome” and “very doubtful of success”.
Hitting back at the criticism, party deputy leader Richard Bruton said the comments were “nonsense”.
“He has made his comments, I don’t agree with them and I’m still as good friends with Alan as ever I was. I don’t agree with him, I think he got this wrong.
“What’s more cumbersome than NAMA? It’s a state body that we haven’t yet seen established… what’s more cumbersome than creating a monstrosity of this nature with no guarantee that credit will get going?”
Fine Gael members voted yesterday to oppose NAMA and endorse the party’s own ideas for a “good bank”, which they claim would open up credit for businesses.
The party’s think-in was overshadowed by Mr Dukes’ criticism, which followed equally critical comments by another former leader, Garret FitzGerald.
“There was general disappointment and incredulity at the position they have taken,” added Mr Bruton.
Meanwhile, the party’s Longford/Westmeath TD James Bannon has called on the party to remove Mr Dukes as party vice-president.
Party delegates should be given an opportunity to decide on Mr Dukes’ position at its Ard Fheis next year, he added.
However, party leader Enda Kenny stopped short of calling for Mr Dukes’ removal.
His predecessor was entitled to his opinion, he said, again noting Mr Dukes was now a public director of Anglo Irish Bank.
He disagreed with calls for Mr Dukes to resign as party vice-president.
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