Saturday 25 November 2017

'I'd love to be in Cabinet but Alliance hasn't decided how it would select ministers' - Ross

Independent TD Shane Ross. Pic Tom Burke
Independent TD Shane Ross. Pic Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Independent TD Shane Ross would "love to be in Cabinet" but his alliance has not yet discussed how they would select potential ministers.

The group will unveil its latest selection of candidates this week, with Mr Ross saying he is confident they can get more than 10 elected. Already there are five sitting TDs who meet every week to discuss political issues and strategy ahead of the General Election.

However, one issue which has not been debated is how they would divide up the jobs should they decide to take part in the next government.

"That's absolutely never been discussed among ourselves. I don't know the answer to that question. We've never got to that stage or anywhere near that stage," he told the Irish Independent.

At the same time, Mr Ross said: "I would love to be in Cabinet. But it's not the be all and end all for me.

"I'm not going to have a personal grudge against the world if it never happens.

"I know people say 'ah you just want to be in Cabinet' but that's not true."

He said being a minister would be "one way of influencing people and getting things done, moving things in your own direction, pulling the levers of power, reforming the thing, teaching the big parties a lesson which they'd never forget and making a radical difference".

The Dublin South TD said it never occurred to him before this Dáil term that he could enter government.

He believes the other sitting TDs in the alliance - Finian McGrath, Michael Fitzmaurice, Tom Fleming and John Halligan - all see each other as equals.

"There really isn't any kind of hierarchy. There never has been and that's very healthy because it means you just get on with it," he said.

But Mr Ross admitted that if Cabinet jobs were offered, tensions could rise.

He said any perception that the group do not want to be in government "should be knocked on the head".

Opinion polls have indicated that the existing combination of Fine Gael and the Labour Party will fall short of being re-elected without the help of a third element.

Mr Ross said if the Independent Alliance achieved 15 seats in the election, he believed it would be likely to enter a coalition.

The first-time TD denied there would be a major issue around the passing of budgets in a situation where alliance members are not controlled by a party whip.

"I don't see that as an obstacle. Labour and Fine Gael have negotiated a budget every year," he said.

He noted that some Labour backbenchers "disappear every year for the votes on the Budget" but ultimately if they didn't agree to the measures, the Dáil would fall.

"The Budget would have to be agreed between the Independent Alliance and whatever other parties are in government.

"But that would have to be done on a normal negotiation basis."

Irish Independent

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