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Taoiseach clashes with Fine Gael TD over Seanad referendum campaign

Enda Kenny and John Deasy, who have clashed before, did so again at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last night.

Fine Gael TD John Deasy with Enda Kenny in Waterford in 2010
Fine Gael TD John Deasy with Enda Kenny in Waterford in 2010
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

LAST NIGHT’S MEETING of the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting saw the Taoiseach Enda Kenny involved in a tense encounter with one of his backbenchers with whom he has previously clashed with.

Waterford-based TD John Deasy, who publicly criticised Kenny over the Senaad referendum defeat, raised the matter towards the end of the parliamentary party meeting in Leinster House last night, leading to the pair ‘having a go at each other’, according to one source.

Deasy’s main gripes were with the party’s overall campaign - criticised by many within the party – and Kenny’s refusal to engage in a debate or publicly advocate for abolition in a set-piece interview.

One TD said it would be an “understatement” to say people in the party were unhappy with the campaign and the €20 million saving that was advocated on literature and posters.

Kenny is reported to have pointed out that Deasy himself had not attended any of the public meetings organised during the referendum in his constituency and was therefore not in a position to criticise.

The pair have previously clashed when Deasy was sacked as frontbench spokesperson on justice in 2004 after he lit a cigarette in the Dáil bar just days after the smoking ban came into effect.

He was later appointed deputy spokesperson on foreign affairs but Deasy did not back Kenny in the attempted heave by Richard Bruton in 2010.

The TD sits on the Dáil’s powerful Public Accounts Committee and has previously suggested that there were “political undertones” to controversies surrounding its chairman, John McGuinness’s expenses claims when he was a Minister of State.

Deasy declined to comment when contacted this morning.

Read: “I voted No. I was disappointed with how the campaign went.” – FG senator

Read: Jigsaws, ‘The Beatles’ and €20m: Fine Gaelers rue ‘dreadful’ Seanad abolition campaign

Read: ‘He probably should have done it’: Kenny’s TV debate refusal divides politicians

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Hugh O'Connell

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