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Renua in talks with 'more than one' Independent TD about becoming leader of the party

The party said that it may also consider changing its name and branding as part of a wider review.

Renua is in talks with some Independent TDs over becoming party's new leader.
Renua is in talks with some Independent TDs over becoming party's new leader.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

RENUA IS IN talks with “more than one” newly elected Independent TD about taking over the leadership of the party. 

Party Treasurer, Michael Farrington, told TheJournal.ie that the party was engaged in talks with a number of new Independent TDs about applying to take over the currently leaderless party. 

The party has been leaderless since councillor John Leahy stepped down from the party in June 2019 following the local elections. 

The departure of Leahy also left the party without any elected representatives. 

While he declined to name any potential leadership candidates, Farrington said that there are a “number of TDs in the Dail who would reflect Renua’s thinking”. 

According to Farrington, talks have taken place in the last few days between some TDs and the party, which describes itself as in favour of small government, low taxes and pro-life and pro-family. 

“We decided to wait until after the election to see who came out of the woodwork,” he said. 

Other applicants are being looked at from inside the party as well, Farrington said. 

The party sub-committee, Farrington said, is currently working on devising a new selection process for the leader. 

Funding

Party representatives told TheJournal.ie that they were not concerned about the future funding of the party, despite support levels dropping to below 2% of first preferences required to receive state funding. 

To qualify for funding under the Electoral Act 1997, a political party must be included in the Register of Political Parties and must have received at least 2% of first preferences votes in the preceding Dáil election. 

Each qualified party receives a flat rate of €126,973, as well as a share of a several million euro fund calculated through an expression of the first preference votes of the party as a percentage of the total first preference votes received by all qualified political parties.

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, Renua qualified for state funding despite having no TDs and only a handful of councillors – all of whom eventually left the party. 

Having received €259,000 in 2018, Renua now will have to rely solely on private funding if it wants to stay in operation. 

But Farrington, who didn’t stand in the last election, has said that the party hopes to be “in rude health” the next time the country goes to the polls. 

Funding, he says, isn’t a major concern. “We’re okay for funding at the moment,” says Farrington. 

The party hasn’t had much expenditure recently and Farrington says a combination of membership fees and small donations have topped up Renua’s coffers. 

Renua is currently relying on part-time volunteers to staff the party.

Meeting

The party has not yet met to discuss the election. The party’s national board will meet next week, while it will have an AGM in May. 

Farrington said that a priority for the party is a fundamental review and possible reform. 

“We’re in a period of reflection,” Farrington says. “We have been carrying out a root and branch re-organisation.”

What that means, according to Farrington, is that “everything is on the table apart from our belief system”. 

That means the branding, marketing and even the name – given to the party by its first leader Lucinda Creighton – could be in for a change.

“Part of our issue has been that we’re tarred with the pro-life brush,” Farrington said. “We have failed to get across the message – other than the pro-life message. And that’s our failing.”

5921 Renua Ireland Former Renua leader John Leahy, centre, at the launch of the party's taxation policy in 2017. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Despite the poor election result, the candidates who spoke to TheJournal.ie were hopeful about the future. 

Anne Marie Condren, who ran in Dublin South-West, said that the party was at an “exciting” stage.

Condren was ambivalent about the result. “Unfortunately, these things happen. That’s the way the cookie crumbles,” she said. 

She says she will run again: “I agree with the policies and it’s a forward-looking party.”

Ultimately, she thinks that the party was damaged by the Sinn Féin surge. “I think people wanted to vote for change,” she said. 

Noel O’Rourke, who ran for the party in Laois-Offaly, thinks the party did relatively well. 

The party, he said, “isn’t resigning”. 

“There are plans,” he said. “Renua is a very good party and we have very good politicians.”

“We have quite a bright future,” he added. 

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