Non-party TDs who 'join the army' must 'wear the boots'
We had have no way of knowing it then. But something important happened in our political culture at the Spa Hotel in Lucan, Co Dublin in late June 1997.
Three Independent TDs - Jackie Healy-Rae from Kerry, Mildred Fox of Wicklow and Harry Blaney of Donegal - gathered to consider their options. The two elderly males were gnarled former Fianna Fáil veterans who had wars of various durations with their old 'mother ship'.
Ms Fox, the daughter of a former Fianna Fáil politician who also had his battles with the party, was much younger but shared their rural background and had a similar outlook on their political futures.