BY JACKIE KEOGH
CORK South West TD, Jim Daly has this week suggested that Deputy Leader James Reilly should consider his position, as a number of party members were unhappy with his appointment.
Daly was one of a handful of backbenchers to openly challenge their ‘boss’ – the Fine Gael leader – both this week and last week. After being critical of decisions made last week, Deputy Daly went on the attack once again on Wednesday night of this week as he voiced his disapproval, at a parliamentary party meeting, with the appointment of the former health minister.
The previous Wednesday Deputy Daly had questioned Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s decision to allow a free vote on Mick Wallace’s Eighth Amendment Bill.
Mr Daly expressed his anger at the Taoiseach for allowing Shane Ross to vote against the Government, thereby ignoring their constitutional duty to act and make decisions as a ‘collective’ authority.
Deputy Daly told the Taoiseach that he could not use the Constitution in an á la carte way. ‘The Bill proposed by Mick Wallace was unconstitutional,’ he said, ‘yet the Taoiseach allowed a free vote.’
The TD described Shane Ross’s actions as ‘opportunistic’, adding that they had damaged the authority of the Taoiseach and the Government. Deputy Daly believed the Taoiseach should have ‘stood up’ to Shane Ross.
When questioned about Enda Kenny’s leadership by The Southern Star this week, Jim Daly said: ‘It would be important for Fine Gael to have a new leader after the next budget.
‘Enda Kenny has made it clear to the parliamentary party and to the public that he won’t lead us into the next election, and I’m happy to let the man have his time, for the moment.’
The Fine Gael TD, who was first elected to Dáil Eireann in 2011, said Spring 2017 would be the ‘optimum’ time for Enda Kenny to announce his departure as leader of the Fine Gael party.
At a follow-up parliamentary party meeting this week, Deputy Daly raised the issue of the appointment of Sen James Reilly as deputy leader of the party.
He told the Taoiseach that this was ‘an error of judgement’ and he urged him to re-consider the appointment and to allow a democratic vote of the parliamentary party to appoint the deputy leader.
‘I don’t have any issue with Enda Kenny’s stewardship of the Government. I think his leadership of the last Government was particularly impressive,’ the deputy told the Star.
‘The issues I am raising specifically relate to singular actions of the Taoiseach in allowing a free vote within the Cabinet, and the reappointment of James Reilly.’