A Fine Gael consultation conference held in the Sheraton Athlone Hotel last Sunday, May 15, unanimously voiced its support for the Programme for Government.
More than 500 people including 140 TDs and councillors from around Ireland descended on Athlone to hear An Taoiseach Enda Kenny outline the aims of the present Government, both immediate and long term.
Fine Gael Councillor, John Dolan, has welcomed the Programme for Government, saying that its core objective is clearly “to make people’s lives better” in every part of Ireland. “The Irish people have worked hard for the progress the country has made,” he said. “Under our first priority we want to help working families. To do that, we need to secure the economic recovery.
“Our Programme for Government contains ambitious plans for more affordable childcare, more and better jobs, lower taxes on workers, help for low-paid workers, and safer streets. I look forward to working alongside my Fine Gael colleagues to deliver real and positive change for the people of Ireland and together we can build a better future for the people of Westmeath and the entire country.”
Cllr Dolan said the conference also demonstrated that members of Fine Gael are firmly behind Enda Kenny as the man to lead both the party and the country forward: “I think that was very evident on Sunday,” he said. “In fairness to the Taoiseach, he does not get great press, but, and without my Fine Gael hat on, people tend to forget the mess he took over in this country five years ago.
“I think there has to be credit given to him for steering the country away from the abyss. I know sometimes that is lost on people, but there were a lot of hard decisions to be made at that time and I think at least he was brave enough to make them. I think the country is better as a result and I think we have to respect that and move now to secure the recovery for everyone.”
On the prospects of the current Government make-up, he said: “I see it working. We are all in new territory now and we need to give things a chance. The main discussion at the conference on Sunday was that we need to put the country first and that is what everyone has to do now. I think there will be a settling down period that will take a few months, but I expect it to work.”
Regarding recent rumours that he has been mooted as a candidate for future General Elections, Cllr Dolan said: “I never really gave it serious thought to be totally honest. I would be lying if I said I haven’t been asked in the past. It is a huge commitment and is something I would have to talk about with my family first, but to say I wouldn’t have an interest would be wrong. But, to be honest, right now all I am looking at is the local elections in 2019.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is pictured with Athlone Councillor John Dolan at the Fine Gael consultation conference in the Sheraton Hotel Athlone on Sunday, May 15