Monday 24 October 2016

Independent Alliance to run at least 22 candidates

Published 20/09/2015 | 02:30

‘VIABLE ALTERNATIVE’: Cllr Deirdre O’Donovan, Shane Ross TD and Senator Feargal Quinn at an Independent Alliance gathering
‘VIABLE ALTERNATIVE’: Cllr Deirdre O’Donovan, Shane Ross TD and Senator Feargal Quinn at an Independent Alliance gathering

The Independent Alliance will have at least 22 candidates contesting the next election, it was announced yesterday.

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Independent TD Shane Ross has said they will be unveiling further candidates in the coming weeks.

At a gathering of prospective candidates in the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone, broadcaster and journalist Eamon Dunphy said the alliance of Independents is the most viable alternative to the Government.

Former Green Party TD Paul Gogarty was one of seven new candidates announced yesterday.

Most of the candidates will be current Independent councillors.

The Alliance is made up five Independent TDs — Ross, Michael Fitzmaurice, Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Tom Fleming — and senators Fergal Quinn and Gerard Craughwell.

The gathering, which was by invitation only and booked out, was not the group’s formal launch, but rather a meeting to prepare candidates for the election.

Under the banner “The Party’s Over”, the meeting saw confirmed and potential candidates gather for a series of workshop sessions, during which Mr Dunphy addressed them. He told the meeting that Independents needed more clarity with regard to their branding.

He also said the Independent Alliance was the most viable alternative to the two-and-a-half party system.

And he added that he would be giving his first preference vote to an Independent Alliance candidate, which is a surprise given his recent expressions of support for Sinn Fein.

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter took to Twitter last week to highlight Mr Dunphy’s links with Sinn Fein.

Mr Dunphy is said to be very supportive of the Independent Alliance model and could be used to launch the campaigns of candidates.

Liam Weeks of University College Cork (UCC), who has specialised on the role of Independents, also addressed the gathering.

Journalists Sinead Ryan, Jane Suiter and Karl Whyte are also engaging with the candidates about how to deal with the media.

Mr Ross has said the alliance will shortly issue a charter to the members. This will be used as the basis for whether it could support a government or not.

Mr Ross said the alliance could be formally launched in November, but insisted: “We want to get this right.”

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