Thursday 19 July 2018

'Blueshirt' insults fly in Rural Five row

Noel Grealish. Photo: Tom Burke
Noel Grealish. Photo: Tom Burke

Philip Ryan and Niall O'Connor

Tensions in the newly-formed Rural Five group of Independent TDs have spilled over into old-school party insults.

The cracks emerged in the alliance last week after the group's leader, Roscommon TD Denis Naughten, a former Fine Gael TD, urged members to keep an open mind on backing Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.

During a tense conference call, Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath is believed to have called Mr Naughten a "Blueshirt" - in reference to his Fine Gael past. Mr McGrath, a former Fianna Fáil TD, refused to support Mr Kenny.

Notably, the Independent TD invited Micheál Martin to deliver the keynote address at the 93rd General Liam Lynch ceremony and Memorial Mass in his home patch of Newcastle, Co Tipperary last weekend.

He is also a good friend of Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath, a member of the party's negotiating team.

Mr Naughten was the only member of the group who was keeping the option of supporting Mr Kenny as Taoiseach on the table.

A Rural Five source said Mr Kenny is a "hard sell" for his constituents but Fine Gael as a party is not.

Mr McGrath and Galway West TD Noel Grealish are understood to be leaning towards backing Mr Martin and firmly ruling out Mr Kenny.

Clare TD Dr Michael Harty and Cork South-West TD Michael Collins have yet to pledge support either way. But Mr Collins is viewed as close to Mr McGrath and veering away from Mr Kenny towards Mr Martin.

Irish Independent

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