'Case-by-case' Independent TD denies 'throwing toys out of pram' after being overlooked for junior minister role
Published 22/05/2016 | 02:30
The future of the new Government has been thrown into doubt this weekend after an Independent TD warned he may not support Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s administration on crucial vote.
Clare TD Dr Michael Harty has insisted he will approach any future votes on a strictly case-by-case basis in a move that suggests his support is far from guaranteed.
But Dr Harty, who is one of eight Independent TDs who is voted for Kr Kenny, rowed back on remarks that suggested his support had been pulled.
Dr Harty told the Sunday Independent he was not part of the Government and said he will approach all votes - including motions of no confidence in either the Taoiseach or his ministers - on a strictly case-by-case basis.
The TD said he backed Enda Kenny as Taoiseach because he believed the country did not want to go back to the polls but insisted he never committed to full-time support of the Government.
However, he rowed back on his statement when his stance came under the media spotlight.
The Clare deputy said he will now back Mr Kenny on motions of no confidence and budget votes.
“When I said on case-by-case basis I meant votes in the Dail and not votes which could bring down the Government,” he said.
Dr Harty also insisted he is a “wholly Independent TD” despite pledging to back Mr Kenny in crucial votes.
When the contradiction in this statement was pointed out, Dr Harty said: “Obviously, if the vote (of confidence) on cataclysmic, unforeseen event it will depend on the issue at hand.”
The doctor said he never sought a position in government from Fine Gael and insisted he is not “throwing his toys out of the pram” because he was not appointed as junior minister.
There is now speculation that Fine Gael may seek to back Dr Harty as chairman of a powerful new Oireachtas health committee.
A Fianna Fail source said last night that Dr Harty's decision leaves the Government in a "very tenuous" position.
"Our aim is not to pull it down unless we are adamantly against something, but if he loses another vote things will become very volatile and Kenny will have to watch every vote," the source said.
Last week, former Independent Alliance member Michael Fitzmaurice also ruled out supporting the Government, despite the rest of his political grouping backing Mr Kenny.
Each member of the Independent Alliance has been given a ministry, as was Denis Naughten, who was part of the so-called Rural Five along with Dr Harty.
Another Independent TD, Katherine Zappone, was given a senior Cabinet position.
The only other Independent TD who supported Mr Kenny for Taoiseach and was not given a position is Tipperary deputy Michael Lowry.
Fine Gael has sought to distance itself from Mr Lowry, but now his support is more essential than ever.
He has claimed he has an understanding with Fine Gael in return for his support, but the party has denied any such arrangement is in place.