Economy Top Of The Agenda At FF Meeting

Fianna Fail's (FF) annual strategy meeting is due to take place today with the focus being placed on the economy.

Members of Fianna Fail have gathered in Dublin for a series of parliamentary meetings ahead of the return to the Dail on Wednesday.

It is understood that the economy and the impact of the recession will be the hot topics up for discussion.

Issues such as fairness, debt sustainability for families and the personal and social impact of unemployment will all be discussed in detail.

The first session will focus on the economy, examining ways to safeguard the progress that was made in stabilising the public finances and reducing the deficit while continuing to protect key areas of social spending.

Although the party had a short think-in at the summer, this gathering is the first conference since their catastrophic performance in February’s general election. The party now has just 19 TDs, 14 Senators and three MEPs- most are expected to attend.

Last year’s conference saw some 100 parliamentary members in attendance. This including, then Taoiseach, Brian Cowen who in a now infamous interview with RTE was accused of sounding drunk- a claim that he denied. The interview was later to be dubbed 'garglegate'.

This interview was seen as starting the slide in the party's fortunes - a decline that led to an election in which the party lost 58 seats.

The official agenda does not mention the problems facing the party. Fianna Fail leader, Michael Martin, did however say the meeting would lead into the policy renewal process for the party.

Meanwhile it has been reported that those attending the meeting will not 'receive a free think-in'. Fianna Fáil members have been asked to pay for their accommodation while attending the party conference.

Members of the party received a letter in August informing them that there was no alternative but to ask members to pay directly for their hotel bed and breakfast when they attend the two-day conference.

The party's debt currently stands at €2.4m.


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