Wednesday 20 September 2017

'Rural Five' admits the group may split ahead of vote for Taoiseach

Negotiations: The rural Independent deputies, from left, Noel Grealish, Mattie McGrath, Denis Naughten, Dr Michael Harty and Michael Collins arriving at Government Buildings for talks with the acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and Fine Gael negotiators on the formation of a new government. Photo: Tom Burke
Negotiations: The rural Independent deputies, from left, Noel Grealish, Mattie McGrath, Denis Naughten, Dr Michael Harty and Michael Collins arriving at Government Buildings for talks with the acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and Fine Gael negotiators on the formation of a new government. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent

A member of the so-called 'Rural Five' has admitted the group may split ahead of the vote for Taoiseach.

Clare TD Dr Michael Harty told independent.ie that no whip will apply to the group when the Dail meets to vote for Taoiseach on Thursday.

"Potentially we will vote as individuals," he said.

The move comes as sources within the group admit there is major friction over whether to back one nominee for Taoiseach as a unit.

It's understood the issue of whether to back Enda Kenny or Micheál Martin has been the subject of terse exchanges being deputies Mattie McGrath and Denis Naughten.

Speaking to independent.ie this afternoon, Dr Harty said the group may decide to vote individually.

"We have always said we are independent TDs who are pursuing a common purpose. We don't have a whip per se," he said.

Asked whether the group could vote as vote individuals on Thursday, Dr Harty replied:

"Potentially , yes."

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