Updated at 12.20pm
FORMER JUSTICE MINISTER Alan Shatter has hit out at Fine Gael’s organisation of the election campaign, and he’s warned that for the good of the country, his party should avoid entering into any “short-term” government arrangements.
Speculation as to the make-up of the next government is continuing this morning – but no real progress is expected for weeks.
After Fianna Fáil ended up just a few seats short of Fine Gael’s total in Friday’s election, Michéal Martin has said Dáil reform must be prioritised before talk can turn to forming an administration.
In a statement last night, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said his party would engage “fully and inclusively” with other parties, groups and independents to ensure a government is established.
Shatter lost his seat in Dublin-Rathdown at the weekend – while his party colleague, the less high-profile Josepha Madigan, was elected.
Speaking in the immediate aftermath of his defeat, Shatter blamed “unnecessary interference” from party HQ in the campaign.
On Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning, Shatter said there were serious questions his party needed to ask and answer as they approached the formation of the next government.
He said the parliamentary party needed to examine what’s in the best interests of the country and of Fine Gael, warning that it was imperative they:
Don’t enter into short-term arrangements simply for the sake of particular individuals remaining in power.
Asked by the presenter whether he was referring specifically to the Taoiseach’s position he said “I’m not going beyond what I said”.
Shatter insisted he was not “out to get” anybody, but warned that another election was likely in the next 18 months
For the sake of the nation, he said, mistakes made this time around “must not be repeated”.
I think there are people who have serious questions to answer about various matters that occurred during our time in government, about the manner this campaign was run – and I don’t say that solely applied to the Taoiseach.
He said a “far more sensitive and understanding approach” needed to be taken “to what I believe is the inevitable election that will occur within the next 18 months”.
Giving his first extensive interview since count day, Shatter didn’t reserve his ire for the Taoiseach, saying other ministers also needed to look at what went wrong.
He singled out Leo Varadkar, the outgoing health minister, for particular criticism.
“It is quite bizarre that you had three senior cabinet ministers involved in, for practically a year, running committees, to work out where the strategy went,” Shatter said.
“Frances [FitzGerald] would have been chairperson of the strategy committee; Leo [Varadkar] on – God help us – the communications committee, because the communications were a disaster; and then, you have all the backroom group.
“And there is a problem with the manner with which the party is now organised,” he added.
There is a perception, I think, at leadership level, that you can frame and manipulate events to the benefit of the party… and that you can bring the general public along with you, and on occasions, you don’t necessarily tell the full truth.
Fitzgerald, Varadkar and Simon Coveney headed up strategy committees for the party in the run up to the general election (Coveney was in charge of policy). Brian Hayes, the Dublin TD turned MEP, was director of elections.
Fine Gael came in for criticism throughout the campaign as a result of the ‘keep the recovery going’ tagline. Opposition parties and many commentators argued that large swathes of the electorate weren’t feeling the recovery to begin with.