Thursday 27 October 2016

Independent Alliance will have at least 22 candidates contesting General Election - TD

Published 19/09/2015 | 12:36

Independent TD Shane Ross
Independent TD Shane Ross

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

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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 today, broadcaster and journalist Eamon Dunphy said that 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 today.

Most of their candidates are Independent councillors. The Alliance is made up five Independent TDs and two senators.

The gathering is not the group's formal launch, but more 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.

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

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 handle and deal with the media.

The event, which is by invitation only, is booked out.

Mr Ross has said the Alliance will shortly issue a charter to the members. This charter will be used as the basis to whether the Alliance 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."

The alliance is said to have at least 20 confirmed candidates ready to contest the election, and with more to be confirmed in the coming days.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has said Fine Gael are ready for an early election in November, should Taoiseach Enda Kenny decide to 'cut and run' earlier.

Speaking today, Mr Coveney, who is on Fine Gael’s national election committee, says his party is ready to go in terms of organisation.

“We are ready…We can go earlier. Fine Gael will be ready whenever the election is called,” he said today.

Mr Coveney was speaking amid fresh speculation that Mr Kenny could decide to call an election in the wake of the Budget next month, if opinion polls are favourable to the Government.

Despite confirming that Fine Gael is ready to contest the election, Mr Coveney said he still thinks  Mr Kenny will wait until February 2016 before calling the election.

Mr Coveney said that the bounce the Coalition got in a major poll last weekend, is not enough to convince him that the Coalition should “cut and run” this side of Christmas.

Coveney, who sits on Fine Gael’s election strategy committee, told a meeting of Fine Gael county and city council leaders and whips that the party should be ready for an election after the Budget.

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