Thursday 22 March 2018

Ross denies FG approached him about doing deal

Kenny didn't consider pact with Independents


Independent TD Shane Ross has denied "categorically" that he was contacted by Fine Gael's Enda Kenny about forming a new government.

Sources in Fine Gael were adamant that the party leader had contacted Mr Ross, who was elected a TD for Dublin South with over 17,000 votes last weekend.

His denial comes as former Finance Minister Ray MacSharry told a public meeting in Dublin that the Fine Gael/Labour coalition pact, which will be announced today, "was not what the people voted for".

It is now clear that Mr Kenny did not consider an alternative to the Labour pact.

Mr Ross is one of 14 Independent TDs who could have provided Mr Kenny with an alternative to a Fine Gael/ Labour coalition.

"There is little doubt that he [Kenny] could cobble together a deal with the necessary seven Independents if he was so minded," says Mr Ross in today's Sunday Independent.

"On past history, one or two Independents could be picked off with constituency cuddling, while others among us could talk turkey if Enda was prepared to concede radical policy shifts and embrace the new politics," says Mr Ross.

Sources believes that Mr Kenny could have got the necessary seven votes needed for a minority government from Independents Shane Ross; Michael Lowry; Michael Healy-Rae; Noel Grealish; Luke Flanagan; Mattie McGrath; Tom Fleming; and possibly even Finian McGrath, who supported the last government, and Wicklow Independent Stephen Donnelly.

However, Mr Kenny has moved inexorably towards a massive Fine Gael/Labour coalition without consulting the Independents.

The other scenario that was not considered was raised by Mr MacSharry and political scientist Peter Mair who wondered why Mr Kenny had not consulted Fianna Fail about the possibility of a Fine Gael minority government with the support of Fianna Fail in what in Eoghan Harris' phrase is "a reverse Tallaght strategy".

Mr Mair, professor of comparative politics at the European University in Florence, said: "I am surprised there hasn't been more attention paid to this. I think there is a strong option for a Fine Gael minority government.

"They have 76 seats. They need 83. Now 76 seats is a very strong, coherent group with a mandate and they will always be sure that whatever policy they produce they will be backed either vocally or passively by Fianna Fail. So there's 20 votes sitting in the chamber that might support them but will certainly not oppose them," he said.

Mr MacSharry, addressing the National Forum, said: "I did hear Micheal Martin say he was prepared to support a new government -- if that is the case it can and would be a better government than a government that would prolong the agony."

Sunday Independent

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