Friday 9 December 2016

Independents to be a major block in the next Dail

Barry Lennon

Published 28/02/2016 | 02:30

Election Count, Roscommon/Galway constituency. Independent Denis Naughten celebrates his win on first count. Photo: Brian Farrell
Election Count, Roscommon/Galway constituency. Independent Denis Naughten celebrates his win on first count. Photo: Brian Farrell

General Election 2016 proved to a major turning point for Independent TDs as support for non-party candidates surged.

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Some of the first TDs to be elected were independents, with Michael Lowry topping the poll in Tipperary, Sean Canney elected in Galway East and Denis Naughten in Roscommon. Tallies backe up the predictions of Friday night's exit poll which showed Independents on 11pc and the Independent Alliance on 3pc.

Shane Ross, who was the first TD elected yesterday, described his grouping, the Independent Alliance, as being "in a pivotal position," in coalition discussions.

"If we have six or more seats, that's a significant gain," he said. "We'll get a chance to talk to any government to implement our programme."

Out-going Independent TD in Tipperary Mattie McGrath said Taoiseach Enda Kenny would have to stand down as leader of Fine Gael for a Coalition involving Independents.

"Fine Gael and Labour got the finest mandate any government in this country has ever gotten and they threw it back in people's faces. They forgot about families and children," he said. "Their liberal agenda doesn't put food on the table, they must now listen to the people, that's sacrosanct and all-powerful."

At the start of the last Dail in 2011, the three big parties held 80pc of the seats.

"We're seeing a collapse of the two-and-half party system," said Paul Murphy of the Anti Austerity Alliance and People Before Profit group.

"There's total disillusionment with party politics. The independents and the smaller parties seem to be almost like the last hope for the country," said another voter in Dublin.

The results echo elections in Portugal and Spain, where anger at austerity, rising inequality and mistrust of established political elites left parliaments fragmented and parties struggling.

Sunday Independent

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