Tuesday 17 October 2017

Will a Government be formed this week? Independent Alliance say they will not be 'rail-roaded' into backing Fine Gael

Six-member Independent Alliance: Shane Ross, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Finian McGrath,
Michael Fitzmaurice, John Halligan and Seán Canney
Six-member Independent Alliance: Shane Ross, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Finian McGrath, Michael Fitzmaurice, John Halligan and Seán Canney

David Kearns

Hopes that a new Government can be formed by Thursday are fading fast as the Independent Alliance says they will not be “railroaded” into backing Fine Gael.

Speaking outside Government buildings yesterday evening, Shane Ross said the group had no interest in “working towards a deadline”.

“We’re not going to be bullied or railroaded into anything… We’re working towards a good solution, not a deadline.

“Time will be needed to consider what’s on the table,” he added.

The IA - comprising of Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, Kevin “Boxer” Moran, Seán Canney, Michael Fitzmaurice and John Halligan - is among two Independent blocks currently being courted by Fine Gael as it bids to secure the 58 votes it needs, if Fianna Fáil abstains, to form a minority government.

IA TD Finian McGrath said work would continue today on finalising the details of such an agreement saying that while progress on some key issues had been made, there was still a long way yet to go on topics such as health.

“Mortgage arrears have taken up a lot of our time too,” added Ross.

Roscommon–South Leitrim's Michael Fitzmaurice said: “There are issues that still need a bit of ironing out... we’ve got stumbling blocks on rural affairs.”

Fine Gael need at least six more Independent TDs to vote for Enda Kenny if he is to be elected Taoiseach this week.

Speaking after Monday’s talks, the five IA TDs present said as a group they were “united on virtually every issue.”

Ross added he was hopeful that John Halligan, who left yesterday’s discussions early, would be with them “at the end”.

The Waterford representative has said he will only enter Government if a deal is struck on cardiac care for the South-East.

Elsewhere the ‘Rural Alliance’ said they were eager to work out a deal to bring discussions to a speedy conclusion.

Independent TD Denis Naughten insisted that there “could have been a Government six weeks ago if Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil hadn’t set down redlines."

Naughten, Michael Harty, Mattie McGrath and Noel Grealish were joined by Senators Gerard Craughwell and Victor Boyhan as they met with Fine Gael late yesterday evening.

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