Sunday 11 December 2016

United they stand – but Alliance to stay divided on policies

Kevin Doyle and Niall O’Connor

Published 13/01/2016 | 02:30

Shane Ross (centre) with Independent candidates David McGuinness, and Cllr Deirdre O’Donovan. Photo: Damien Eagers
Shane Ross (centre) with Independent candidates David McGuinness, and Cllr Deirdre O’Donovan. Photo: Damien Eagers

The Independent Alliance will not formulate an agreed position on issues such as entering government with Sinn Féin or abortion ahead of the general election.

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The grouping, which includes five sittings TDs, attempted to put on a united face as its launched its ‘Charter for Change’ yesterday but struggled with questions as to how exactly it would operate if it entered government.

While Dublin South TD Shane Ross has told the Irish Independent he “can think of no circumstances in which I would go into government with Sinn Féin”, new candidate in Cork North West Diarmuid O’Flynn said that he could work with Sinn Féin.

Group members at the launch were also asked to give a show of hands indicating if they supported the repeal of the Eighth Amendment but this was prevented.

Among their latest candidates, unveiled yesterday, was two-time Fianna Fáil by-election candidate David McGuinness, who predicted that he will be able to unseat Tánaiste Joan Burton in Dublin West.

Mr McGuinness, who left Fianna Fáil after failing to be selected as a general election candidate, told the Irish Independent that he believes Ms Burton is in serious trouble.

He said he joined the Alliance as a “way to show people I’m serious”.

“I don’t think Joan will get a seat. The Socialists are in trouble. Joe [Higgins] was a huge presence but Ruth Coppinger hasn’t done the groundwork.

“She hasn’t looked after the community like Joe did,” he said, while also dismissing the chances of Fianna Fáil’s Jack Chambers.

“A lot of Fianna Fáilers are sticking with me because they feel I was hard done by,” he said.

On Sinn Féin, Mr McGuinness said he “would have a difficulty with them but if the Irish people choose Sinn Féin then I can’t ignore that”.

“Having said that, I’ll campaign against Sinn Féin in the meantime,” he added.

In response to the Blanchardstown councillor’s comments, Ms Burton said she is “very confident” of holding her seat.

“In every election I face a battle and I think, to be honest, every candidate in every election faces a battle. All I can say, I am very confident certainly from the response I have been receiving over the last couple of years,” she said.

The charter launched by the Independent Alliance contains 10 points which any potential government partner must be willing to sign up to.

They include an end to cronyism, genuine Oireachtas reform, support for rural Ireland, equality for all and a commitment to stay in the European Union.

Mr Ross’s constituency rival Alan Shatter said the alliance was a “recipe for instability” and claimed it was “taking protest politics and populism to its most ridiculous extreme”.

Meanwhile, Ms Burton also said that she has held discussions with Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the date of the election. She hinted that it will not be called until after the Labour Party Ard Fheis in Mullingar on January 30.

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