Tuesday 17 January 2017

Shane Ross defends Kenny 'possibly a political corpse' comment

Independent Alliance have not decided who to back for Taoiseach

Published 07/03/2016 | 16:34

Shane Ross. Photo: Tom Burke
Shane Ross. Photo: Tom Burke

INDEPENDENT Alliance leader Shane Ross has said he stands over his comment that Enda Kenny is a potential “political corpse.”

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And Mr Ross’s colleagues in the six-strong Dáil grouping have backed their leader in the controversial remarks widely seen as inappropriate by other politicians.

Both Finian McGrath and Michael Fitzmaurice said it was clear that there were questions about Mr Kenny’s future as Fine Gael leader – and they wanted to be sure they were speaking to people with full authority to do a deal.

The Independent TDs, drawn from city and country and left and right, were speaking after talks with Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, ahead of a first vote to elect a Taoiseach on Thursday.  They had met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week and Mr Ross’s controversial "corpse” comment came in a column for the Sunday Independent.

“Sometime in the middle of the exchanges an awful truth dawned. We were possibly in dialogue with a political corpse,” Mr Ross wrote of the meeting with the Taoiseach last Friday at Government Buildings.

The group stressed several times that they had yet to decide what way to vote on Thursday. But they were extremely positive about their meeting with Mr Martin which lasted over 90 minutes.

Mr Ross said the Fianna Fáil leader showed “more energy” in his approach. “He’s hungry and he wishes to put forward some very radical proposals and we didn’t see that from the Taoiseach last week,” he said.

Mr Ross said they presented him with a move to end the Taosieach’s absolute power to call a general election by fixing Dáil terms at five years. They also sought measures to end political cronyism in state board appointments and remove political influence from appointing judges.

The Independent Alliance also want to end the secrecy surrounding the workings of the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges. This regulates the parliament and deals with disciplinary issues.

Michael Fitzmaurice, who represents Roscommon-Galway, said Mr Martin was receptive to the idea of appointing a Rural Affairs Minister and so-called “rural proofing” of major policies to ensure they promoted regional development.

Finian McGrath said he presented demands on health and disability services reforms as well as measures to tackle gangland crime. The new TD for Galway East, Seán Canney, said he spoke about balanced regional development.

The four were accompanied by Longford-Westmeath TD, Kevin “Boxer” Moran. The sixth member of the group, John Halligan of Waterford, did not meet with reporters.

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