FINE Gael is working to win back its seats lost in Munster in the last election, including its second seat in Cork South West, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said in Skibbereen last week.
The party is compiling a report on its election performance which will examine the loss of nine seats in Munster, including Noel Harrington’s seat, he added.
The Minister was in West Cork last Friday to open the new Skibbereen office of the lone FG TD in West Cork, Jim Daly, and also to meet a number of community groups in Bandon and Clonakilty.
The Minister told The Southern Star: ‘The fact that Jim is opening an office in Skibbereen, along with his offices in Bandon and Clonakilty, is testament to the fact that he is giving a service to areas that lost a TD.’
At the opening of the office, at High Street, near the town’s post office, Minister Varadkar said he wished to recognise Deputy Daly’s contribution to the area and as a TD in Dáil.
He said the TD was very good at relaying the local people’s concerns to the party in Dublin, while also taking a real interest in questions of national interest.
‘When Jim speaks, it’s a good idea to listen, because while he is sometimes controversial, he also says things that are well considered and important,’ he added.
There was a lovely moment when Jim’s daughter Emma, who insisted on being lifted up by her Dad during the speeches, tapped Leo on the shoulder as he was speaking, prompting him to remind the audience about his new legislation on paternity leave. ‘I’m not sure it will apply to Jim now,’ he joked.
Emma wasn’t the only lady smitten with the minister. ‘He’s even better looking in real life – and much taller than I thought,’ a somewhat older lady whispered to her friend.
Indeed there was quite a queue of party faithful – and Leo fans – lining up to get their photos taken with the Minister on Friday.
Another female fan presented him with a book of Dennis Horgan’s West Cork from the Air, telling him it would be a little memento of his visit to the region.
And Leo certainly seemed keen to enjoy the bank holiday weekend in the south west – on Saturday he tweeted a photo of himself and Jim Daly with Dublin TD Maureen O’Sullivan on a sunny Cape Clear.