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Revealed: How Fine Gael plans to fight the next general election

Simon Coveney has told Fine Gael councillors to be ready for an election after the Budget in October.

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny
Image: RollingNews.ie

FINE GAEL PLANS to highlight Fianna Fáil’s record in office, the turmoil in Greece and will seek to show a “compassionate side” to voters during the general election campaign.

As election preparations are intensified, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney told a recent meeting of Fine Gael county and city councillors that the party should be ready for an election after the Budget in October.

Though many expect the coalition to run its full term – and for an election to be held in the spring – there continues to be speculation that Taoiseach Enda Kenny will go to the country before the year is out.

Coveney, who sits on Fine Gael’s election strategy committee, told the meeting of Fine Gael county and city council leaders and whips that the party should be ready for an election after the Budget.

His comments are contained in minutes of a meeting, seen by TheJournal.ie, which took place on 18 June at the Alexander Hotel in Dublin city centre.

At the same meeting, the Taoiseach’s special advisor Paul O’Brien told councillors that the party’s manifesto preparation is “at an advanced stage”.

According to the minutes, O’Brien stressed the importance to the election campaign of Fianna Fáil’s record in office and the situation in Greece.

90378144 Ministers Simon Coveney, Frances Fitzgerald and Leo Varadkar all sit on Fine Gael's national election strategy committee Source: RollingNews.ie

He also said that as part of the campaign Fine Gael hopes to attract Irish emigrants back home.

Coveney told councillors that the there is a need to set the general election campaign agenda. The Cork South-Central TD said that the party “would look to show a compassionate side and highlight investment in rural Ireland”, according to the minutes.

Former party strategist Frank Flannery said last year that Fine Gael’s poor local and European election performance was down to it failing to set the agenda, allowing controversies over water charges and the gardaí to dominate.

The meeting also heard from junior housing minister Paudie Coffey who informed councillors that there had been a 30% increase in planning applications.

He said that criticism of Fine Gael’s policies in government by councillors was “perfectly acceptable as long as it was constructive”, the minutes state.

During a wide-ranging question and answer session councillors from across the country raised a variety of issues.

These included universal social charge, milk prices, housing, local property tax, the need to help businesses by cutting red tape, post office closures, childcare and their own remuneration and workload.

Read: Fine Gael can’t get away from the abortion issue

Read: Have you heard about Fine Gael’s dubious colleagues in Brussels?

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Hugh O'Connell

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