Fine Gael Leader gets Full Marks for Timekeeping
Mon 1 Mar 2004
By PAUL O’MEARA from Leinster Leader
IF punctuality becomes a voters’ issue by the time the local elections come around in June the Government parties will be on the run from Fine Gael.
FG Leader Enda Kenny breezed through the door of the Silken Thomas, Kildare town, with not so much as a single hair out of place and barely five minutes behind schedule.
He was more than halfway through a visit to the major towns in the Kildare South constituency and, almost incredibly for events such as this, he had remained faithful to the time programme.
The entourage actually arrived early in Athy from Kilcullen and after that left for Kildare town where they met delegations from RACO and PDFORRA, the representative associations for Defence Forces staff.
The Army men were no doubt impressed with his time keeping and before he left the county he met farmers, councillors and constituents at the Newbridge Shopping Centre.
Flanked by most of the elections candidates, including sitting MEP Avril Doyle, who faces opposition from two party colleagues at the selection convention which will take place at the Hotel Keadeen on March 14, he said the party’s long term aim will be to win back the seats lost in the last General Election.
"We will mount a strong and vigorous campaign in the local elections ad will field the best range of candidates," he said.
He dismissed the mass resignations of party members in the Newbridge area, saying that the selection process which led to the resignations was entirely democratic and he pointed out that all members sign a pledge to be loyal to the party.
He also criticised the introduction of electronic voting and said the manner of the introduction had created a great feeling of unease.
He said the party was committed to working with other opposition parties in the Dail when situations arose where they have a common interest and tabling of joint motions recently had proven successful.
He appealed to everybody to use their vote.
"Young people in particular may be a bit cynical but their vote is very important and we have candidates who will listen to their problems. Kildare faces changes as a result of the huge population increases and the I believe we have the best interests of the community at heart," said Mr. Kenny.
Fine Gael currently has one councillor serving the Kildare electoral area and a total of six on the county council.
He believes that this can be increased to nine and he hopes to have at least one more councillor representing the Kildare area.
Asked if he would like to see the name of Alan Dukes on the ticket for the next General Election he said: "I would not tell Alan Dukes what to do. Our ambition is to win the seat back and since he lost the seat his contribution to the party has been immense and is appreciated, but he has made it clear his involvement in politics is over."
Mr. Kenny supports RACO’s case for moving civilian and military personnel from Dublin to one centre and said it would bring 250 jobs to the area. He also promised Fine Gael would remedy the failure to provide Army spouses with a postal vote and absence of a payment to the wife of a soldier killed on military service which has not been approved by the UN.
The delay in providing a school extension in Rathangan was highlighted by candidate Leo Conway, who is chairman of the school Board of Management.
Mr. Conway said the project was long overdue and because of the failure to precede with the amalgamation of the three schools in Kildare town and for reasons of subject choice the Rathangan School is inundated with students seeking to enrol.
Cllr. Fionnuala Dukes said the County Development Board is carrying out a study of primary and second level education needs in County Kildare.
Alan Dukes said the Government had ignore education as a priority and said the government is more interested in allowing housing development to take place before any thought is given to education.
Avril Doyle criticised a speech given by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to a European audience at the beginning of the year.
"There was a lot of talk about how education in Europe should develop up to 2010 but not enough schools are being built at home," she said.