Wednesday 7 December 2016

Split emerges between Fine Gael Ministers over Michael Lowry

Barry Duggan and Niall O’Connor

Published 27/01/2016 | 10:45

Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke
Richard Bruton. Photo: Tom Burke

A SPLIT is emerging between senior Fine Gael ministers as to whether Michael Lowry should form part of the next government.

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Pressure is being heaped on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to rule out Mr Lowry as a potential coalition partner after Tanaiste Joan Burton finally moved to cut the Tipperary TD loose.

For two days, Ms Burton declined to address the question of whether Ms Lowry would be an acceptable coalition partner.

However, a spokesman last night said: “The Tanaiste does not believe it appropriate that the individual in question would form part of a future government.

“She has made very clear her concerns about the type of secretive deals with Independents that were a hallmark of Fianna Fail governments.”

Last night, Mr Kenny’s spokesman said the Government was “not contemplating engaging with any independents”, but he did not rule out the prospect of post-election talks with Mr Lowry.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar heaped pressure on the Fine Gael leader to cut Mr Lowry loose, saying the ex-Communications Minister “has an issue with the law”.

This morning, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton refused to completely rule out a coalition which included Mr Lowry.

“We are not going to be looking for any support. The electorate will make the decision about who is elected. We do not intend to rely on the support of Michael Lowry. We intend to win this election.”

When asked on RTE’s Morning Ireland could he rule out seeking Mr Lowry’s support after the election, Mr Bruton said the Tipperary TD was expelled from Fine Gael after the Moriarty Tribunal report.

“That is as categorical as we can be, but the Taoiseach isn’t starting to go through every conceivable candidate talking about candidates who might be or not be people who would support a government.”

He said independent TDs “with shopping lists would undermine the stability of the approach” Fine Gael were adopting.

“We will not be relying on Michael Lowry at the end of this and nor will we be relying on other such candidates,” Mr Bruton said.

Mr Lowry fuelled the debate yesterday by taking to his local radio station, Tipp FM, to attack Environment Minister Alan Kelly for “jumping on the bandwagon”.

He was responding to comments Mr Kelly made in which he “categorically” ruled out Labour working with his constituency rival.

Mr Lowry said the minister is suffering from “a bit of delusion” and his statement “smacks of his customary arrogance”.

The Environment Minister then hit back saying that Mr Lowry hasn’t done any work with him in the constituency in the past five years, “so it will continue that way”.

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