Canney's support 'does not depend on top-up pay'
Independent TD Seán Canney has insisted his continued support of the Fine Gael-led minority Government is not dependent on him getting a position that comes with a top-up payment.
Mr Canney has announced he is leaving the Independent Alliance, casting doubt on whether he will be able to continue in the role of Assistant Government Whip, which comes with an allowance of €15,000.
Last night, the Galway East TD told the Irish Independent it would be Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's "prerogative" as to whether he would stay in that job.
He said his support of the Government was "not about a position or money". "It does not depend on anything like that. Absolutely not," he added.
There has been speculation that he would get a role in the Government's efforts to tackle the housing crisis, given his background in the construction industry and as a quantity surveyor. He said he had had meetings with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and offered advice, but he was not seeking a special position.
Mr Canney said he told Mr Varadkar he would continue to support the Government because he wanted to see the Programme for Government, which he helped draft, be implemented.
He parted ways with the Independent Alliance after a row with its other four TDs.
When the Government was formed, it was agreed the position of OPW minister would be shared by Mr Canney and Kevin 'Boxer' Moran. They flipped a coin to decide who would take the job for the first year, with Mr Canney winning. The office was handed over to Mr Moran last summer, but there then there was a dispute over who would be the minister for the year ahead.
The Independent Alliance last night put out a brief statement noting Mr Canney's departure and saying: "We wish him well in the future".
Mr Varadkar said he regretted Mr Canney's decision to leave the alliance but welcomed his continued support for the Government. He said he would meet Mr Canney and the Independent Alliance next week. Asked whether Mr Canney would keep the job of Assistant Government Whip, Mr Varadkar said: "We'll work on that next week."