Fianna Fáil TDs rue ‘damage done to party’

FIANNA FÁIL TDs said “huge damage” has been done to their party over the medical card fiasco and it will take time to make amends with the electorate.

Anger was directed towards Taoiseach Brian Cowen at the parliamentary party meeting yesterday over how the issue had been handled by the Government.

Backbencher TDs said they will continue to listen to the views of their constituents on the issue, but hope that fears among older people will be calmed by changes to the policy announced by the Government yesterday.

Noel O’Flynn, of Cork North Central, confirmed that he told the Taoiseach yesterday that he will listen to the views of his constituents on the changes promised by Government before giving his commitment to vote for it when the legislation comes before the Dáil.

Some TDs sought initiatives by the Government to win back the support of older voters whose confidence and trust they have lost.

Certain Fianna Fáil ministers were singled out for criticism by backbenchers.

Following the meeting, chief whip Pat Carey, said: “People were relaying the opinions that they had got from their party organisation and a number of people undertook to go back to their party organisations and let them know the details of the new arrangements. Most of the people were happy with it. Two or three asked questions about aspects of it.”

Mr Carey accepted the party has been damaged: “We have endured a fair bruising but we have learned from this particular measure. We need to communicate the message we are trying to put across more clearly.”

Mr Carey said he expects the Government will win “with a reasonable majority” a Dáil vote on the medical card issue today.

“I do not expect anybody to rebel,” he said.


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