Deputy News Editor
- Allegations of financial impropriety rock YFG gathering
- Candidate on former disgraced Naas major: “Nobody is perfect”
A UCD student was ordered to leave the Young Fine Gael hustings during a heated scene in the Swift Lecture Theatre last Wednesday night. Tom O’Sullivan, the treasurer of YFG Dublin Regional Council, was ejected following an extraordinary attack on David Higgins, the Dublin region organiser and public relations officer for Trinity YFG, during a question and answer session on the night. His removal was ordered by Alan Farrell TD, who chaired the event.
Among the accusations levelled against Higgins was the claim that he was responsible for the profit losses of the Blue Ball event, the implication being he had pocketed the proceeds himself. O’Sullivan alleged that the Dublin organiser had given the ball proceeds to his political associates and was joined in this line of questioning by another member of the audience. However, Higgins refuted the accusation by turning the responsibility for any financial inconsistencies back on the treasurer. It was at this point that Farrell, who had initially warned O’Sullivan that his remarks were potentially libellous, proceeded to order the UCD student out of the hall.
The rest of the event consisted of candidates for various YFG positions speaking for a few minutes on how they would go about using their prospective roles. Most speeches consisted of generally similar messages, with all candidates outlining how they would go about engaging with the senior wing of the party, and use their positions to better connect young supporters with those in government. Ciara McMahon, a candidate for the YFG panel, noted in her speech that politics should be introduced as a Leaving Certificate subject. Another panel candidate, David McManus, also outlined the importance of “getting young people interested in politics.”
One candidate went on to attempt to defend Darren Scully, the councillor and former Naas mayor who was expelled from the party for saying that he would not represent “black Africans” in the town. Fine Gael’s recent decision to re-admit Scully into the party was condemned by the Irish Integration Centre as sending a “clear message that racist remarks by elected representatives are okay with them.” However, the YFG candidate in question remarked in his speech that, “Nobody is perfect.”
YFG was also the subject of public attention in July following the passing of a number of unusual motions at its annual Garrett Fitzgerald Summer School, where motions and resolutions submitted by branches are debated by young party members. Among the motions passed by branch delegates was a motion that, “YFG calls on the Government to reinstate Garda detectives with sub-machine guns, as ordinary handguns are insufficient to combat modern day crime.”
The event also saw what the organisation’s Twitter account described as “heated debate” on a motion that called on the government to engage in accession talks to join NATO. The motion, which had been proposed by UCD YFG, was subsequently passed.
Additional reporting by Catherine Healy