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Frank Flannery would give "serious consideration" to Fine Gael return

The former party strategist quit Fine Gael last March following controversy over his role as a consultant with the Rehab Group.

FORMER FINE GAEL strategist Frank Flannery has said he hasn’t been asked to return to the party in any role, but would give “serious consideration” to an offer.

His comments come after TheJournal.ie revealed this week that Flannery had held talks with the Taoiseach about a possible return ahead of the next general election.

It’s understood that the pair met over a coffee in the Cellar Bar of the Merrion Hotel opposite Government Buildings in recent days.

The meeting was their first since Flannery quit Fine Gael last March following controversy over his role as a consultant with the Rehab Group, which paid him thousands of euro to lobby government departments in 2011 and 2012.

Speaking to Marian Finucane on RTÉ radio this morning, Flannery confirmed the pair had met for a “little chat”.

He also said he agreed with predictions that the party could be in line to lose 40 seats in the upcoming election, based on current polling. However, he said that the below headline in today’s Sunday Independent was inaccurate, and that he had never asserted he could personally save them for an electoral wipe-out.

The kind of headline that would "drive you to drink" according to Frank Flannery. Source: TheJournal.ie

“I didn’t say that and I don’t believe that,” Flannery said.

“The 40 seats though is pretty realistic —  because if you take current polling that is the result you would get.”

He added:

Could I make a difference? Haven’t a clue.

Flannery said the party was “possibly” thinking about asking him to come back in an advisory role.

He said he had made contact with Enda Kenny after the Taoiseach told political correspondents before Christmas that he would always regard the former FG director of elections “as a friend of mine”.

“So if I meet Frank Flannery in the street of course I will have a chat with him and a cup of coffee. Why wouldn’t I?” Kenny said on 17 December.

Flannery said he had responded to that comment “in a seasonal, similar goodwill fashion” and that the pair had ”resumed our chatting to a certain extent that we would have had” since then.

Enda Kenny and Frank Flannery in 2008. Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

The former strategist has been sharply critical of Fine Gael since he quit, saying in November that it seemed “hell-bent on self-destruction” in the wake of the John McNulty Seanad by-election debacle.

Before that, he told the Glenties summer school last July that Fine Gael’s local election strategy was “one of the worst I ever saw”.

There’s been a mixed reaction to his possible return within the party.

Children’s Minister James Reilly said he would “look forward to having the benefit of his wisdom and experience” while Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney ridiculed the initial reports, saying he didn’t envisage Flannery returning to the fold.

Read: Frank Flannery could be returning to Fine Gael – but not everyone’s happy

Read: Who is Frank Flannery and why is everyone talking about him?

 

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