Donegal TD Joe McHugh has said returning two TDs will be a struggle and there is no guarantee that Fine Gael will be able to return a TD in the new five-seat Donegal constituency at the next general election.
Speaking after passing six months in his role as minister for state for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources he said the figures show that returning two TDs for Fine Gael would be very difficult.
“On the figures at the moment, with a five seater it will be a very difficult ask to take two seats. Is one seat a given? Who knows?”
He said the party will be select a strategy designed to maximise the vote across the new constituency.
“An electoral strategy committee is working on what is the best strategy for the party in the constituency and its work is at a very early stage. The very strong opinion in both former constituencies is how we maximise (the vote) based on figures, based on local election results. They will look at it very strategically.”
The Coalition and Fine Gael have endured a torrid six months. The public’s anger at the austerity polices and water charges in particular saw Fine Gael and Labour suffer catastrophic local election results.
McHugh says the council elections were a mid-term election and the government has listened to the electorate. “We were given the job of sorting out the country. We made choices. And choices involved cleaning up any sort of a mess, a lot of the choices aren’t straight forward or easy. Did we make mistakes? Yes. We came in to make the country right. We are not there yet but we are going in the right direction.”
He said the first six months of his time as a junior minister has been “seriously intensive”.
He was the subject of scrutiny last summer when his appointment was criticised due to the level of his Irish.
He said he does not feel he is at a disadvantage in his post due to his level of Irish and that he is in a position to encourage people who have not got strong Irish to improve it. “I understood the debate completely. “What I had to do was step up to the plate and put my hand up and be honest about it that I couldn’t have a conversation in Irish, but I was going to do something about it. That doing something about it has meant that the last six months have been seriously intensive.”