Sunday 23 November 2014

McDowell wasn't asked to Reform Alliance rally

John Downing Political Correspondent

Published 14/01/2014 | 02:30

13/01/2014
REPRO FREE
MAXWELLS DUBLIN
Pic Shows: (l to r) Senator Katherine Zappone and Michael McDowell SC in Dublin today to launch a document,
Michael McDowell

Former Progressive Democrats leader Michael McDowell will not attend the breakaway Reform Alliance rally planned for Dublin later this month.

Mr McDowell, a founder member of the PDs and more recently a leader of debate on the prospect of a new political party, said he has no links to the breakaway group of Fine Gael TDs and senators who are organising the 'monster rally' at the RDS on January 25.

The former attorney general and justice minister confirmed that he will not be at the meeting, just hours after Lucinda Creighton stated: "The problem is that Michael is intimately associated with the regime that failed the country."

Asked about the RDS rally, Mr McDowell said yesterday: "No, I haven't been invited and I won't be there." He was speaking at the launch of a new campaign to overhaul Seanad Eireann aimed to make it more efficient and democratic.

The Seanad reform group Democracy Matters said it was 100 days since voters rejected efforts to abolish the Seanad.

"We should now use the next 100 days for action on reform," another group member, Independent Senator Feargal Quinn, said.

Another Independent senator, Katherine Zappone, said without their proposed changes the Seanad would be comprised of "politicians elected by politicians".

The Reform Alliance, which comprises five former FG TDs and two senators, are the continued focus of speculation that they are moving towards founding a new political party.

But despite stimulating debate on the prospect of a new party for the past year, Mr McDowell said he had no links with the group. The other Democracy Matters campaigners, Senators Quinn and Zappone, also made it clear that they did not intend going to the Reform Alliance meeting.

Former Minister for EU Affairs Ms Creighton insists that the January 25 rally is not about forming a new party but focused on debate about political reforms.

Ms Creighton, who represents Mr McDowell's old Dublin South East constituency, has invited politicians of all beliefs but last weekend she said she did not expect Mr McDowell would be attending the rally.

But Mr McDowell and the others present at the launch said they did hope to cooperate with the Reform Alliance and other interested political groups in efforts to pressurise the Government to reform the Seanad.

Irish Independent

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