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Lucinda's Technical Group move sparks furious row

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Lucinda Creighton

Lucinda Creighton

Lucinda Creighton

Reform Alliance TD Lucinda Creighton's decision to join the Dail's Technical Group has sparked a furious row among the group of Independent TDs.

Ms Creighton and Peter Mathews formally applied to become members of the group yesterday and other members are currently considering their options to gain increased speaking rights in the Dail.

On reading the news in the media, the existing group of 15 TDs immediately wrote to Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett in protest.

They bitterly complained that they were not informed of the move and also said they were not willing to give up their slots on Oireachtas committees to make room for the Reform Alliance members.

They have called on Mr Barrett to ensure they do not lose out on any speaking time as a result of Ms Creighton's decision to join.

The letter, written by Catherine Murphy, who acts as the whip of the group, expressed "disappointment" at not been told of the inclusion of Ms Creighton and Mr Mathews.

"We regret that in light of the move that we will have no option but to seek legal advice," she added.

The row made its way onto the floor of the Dail and a meeting between Ms Murphy and the Ceann Comhairle was immediately convened last night.

At the meeting, Ms Murphy complained that the Ceann Comhairle was on record as saying TDs who were previously members of a political party could not join the Technical Group because they were aligned at the time of the last election.

At the meeting, Mr Barrett told Ms Murphy that on foot of senior counsel advice, he was now of the view that they could be a member of the Technical Group, once they formally write to him.

The five Reform Alliance TDs - Ms Creighton, Billy Timmins, Denis Naughten, Terence Flanagan and Mr Mathews - left Fine Gael after opposing government policy. The only member of the Reform Alliance who is definitely not seeking to join the Technical Group is Denis Naughten.

Technical Group member John Halligan said it was appalling that the Ceann Comhairle failed to even communicate with them about the move. "It shows a total disregard for us in the Technical Group," he said.

Ms Murphy said: "I did not sign up for this mess as whip. I am not willing to give up my committee position to make room for the Reform Alliance."

Irish Independent