Saturday 25 November 2017

Dissidents are down a man as reluctant rebel Walsh aims to win back first-team place

It probably wasn't the best start for the Dail's new grouping of like-minded dissidents to have one of their members take his ball home before the new term even begins.

Nonetheless, Galway West's Brian Walsh (right) has changed his mind about throwing his lot in with the Reform Alliance (instantly dubbed the RA, inevitably). The gang was formed by the septet of Fine Gael Oireachtas members who have lost the party whip over various contentious issues, in order to try to land speaking rights in the chamber.

But now the rebels – beadily regarded by party poobahs as The Maleficent Seven, presumably – are down a man already, with Brian (one of the party's four TDs and two senators who parted company from the mother ship over the Abortion Bill) backing away from what he perceived to be not so much a loose alliance as the foundation of a whole new political party altogether – a claim vociferously denied by the other members of the group.

Moreover, the departed deputy – the Continuity RA perhaps – was on the radio yesterday making soothing noises about his intention to vote with the Government henceforth, expressing the desire to be admitted back into the fold before the next general election

Although Fine Gael rebels are usually left to shiver on the Siberian tundra of the Independent backbenches – just ask RA member, Roscommon's Denis Naughten who went overboard two years ago – perhaps glasnost is breaking out in Brian Walsh's case.

For an eagle-eyed birdie spotted what appeared to be a convivial pow-wow down Galway way some weeks ago between the reluctant rebel, Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe and Limerick TD Patrick O'Donovan.

Never mind – with another hair-shirt Budget scheduled to detonate in the Dail in a mere four weeks' time, the Reform Alliance may soon be fishing another overboard Fine Gael mutineer on to their raft.

Irish Independent

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