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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Independents close to deal on forming technical group

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

INDEPENDENT TDs are now confident they have enough signatures to form the technical group that will give them special speaking rights in the Dail.

The new technical group has yet to decide on the identity of the rotating leaders and deputy leaders who will grill the Taoiseach on a week-to-week basis.

A minimum of 10 names out of the 19 newly elected Independent TDs is required to form the group that will ensure the voices of Independents are heard every day in the Dail.

Such a power block of Independents would put massive pressure on the new government, particularly the Labour Party, because of the high number of left-wing Independent TDs on the opposition benches.

Independent TD Finian McGrath, who is chairing the talks, said he was confident he now had the minimum number of 10 signatures required to go before the new Ceann Comhairle next Wednesday.

Independents including Maureen O'Sullivan (Dublin Central); Catherine Murphy (Kildare North); Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow); Shane Ross (Dublin South); Mick Wallace (Wexford); Luke 'Ming' Flanagan (Roscommon-South Leitrim); Thomas Pringle (Donegal South West); and Mattie McGrath (Tipperary South) are all said to be on board.

Others, including Michael Lowry (Tipperary North) and the five United Left Alliance (ULA) TDs Joe Higgins, Clare Daly, Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins and Seamus Healy have also held preliminary talks. Further discussions will be held with the ULA on Monday, ahead of a formal meeting on Tuesday with all the Independents who are signing up to the group. And it is likely they will also have to agree on rotating leaders and deputy leaders.

Mr McGrath said up to 15 Independents may now take part in the technical group.

Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins insisted the group, which will contain members with "sharp ideological differences", would be established for "purely technical reasons".

Some 564 candidates ran in the election, 233 of whom were Independents -- the highest ever -- taking 19 of the 166 seats.

Irish Independent

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