More than 1,400 people turned up for the first public rally of the new Reform Alliance, an organization founded by disenchanted politicians.
But after a day-long rally and meeting in Dublin it still was unclear whether the Alliance intends to form a new political party.
Former Fine Gael TD (member of Parliament) Lucinda Creighton described the first public meeting as lively, engaging and extremely stimulating.
The Alliance is made up of five former Fine Gael TDs and two senators. The group said it wants to find ways to improve both the political system and the economy.
Creighton told the audience that the Alliance was not about party politics and it was not about replicating what is already there.
She said it was about getting people in power to embrace some of the reforms discussed at the meeting, and more meetings were planned to take place across the country.
Creighton received a standing ovation when she mentioned the stand she and her colleagues took against abortion legislation last year.
Creighton, a former European affairs minister who was once tipped to succeed Enda Kenny as leader of Fine Gael, said she believed the group of five TDs and two senators in the Alliance had the capacity to grow. She added that a number of independent TDs had already approached them.
“We haven’t tried to recruit anybody, and we have been approached by other independents. We have discussed issues with them,” Creighton said.
“I think the recovery of the country and our economy is the number one issue that exercises me and exercises most people in our state.”
Broadcaster Olivia O’Leary, who addressed the conference, said it was worrying that there were so few women in the audience. She said the gathering was the result of politicians being expelled from Fine Gael over their opposition to abortion legislation.
While not agreeing with the stand they took, she said she would defend their right to take it.
Some speakers called for a new political party while others advocated for a new electoral system.
Later, Creighton accused her former Fine Gael colleague Leo Varadkar of sneering at the number of people who attended the conference.
Varadkar, Minister for Tourism and Transport, was criticized by Creighton after he claimed the so-called monster meeting in Dublin attracted fewer participants than a 10 kilometer road race which attracted 2,000 runners and spectators in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.
Varadkar laughed off suggestions that the group now represented a threat to political parties. He claimed that the conference was attended by “a lot of pro-life activists.”
Creighton told the Irish Independent, “If Leo wants to sneer at 1,450 people turning up to discuss politics and the future of the country, it’s very sad.”
Happy Earth Day! Ireland sure looks gorgeous from outer space