Dunphy all set to fire up Ross's troops
Up to 40 to attend invite-only Alliance gathering
RTE sports pundit and journalist Eamon Dunphy is to address a meeting of the Independent Alliance next Saturday.
The gathering, to take place at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone, will not be the group's formal launch, but more a meeting to prepare candidates for the election.
The Alliance's de-facto leader, Independent TD Shane Ross, who is a columnist with this newspaper, said the launch was likely to take place later in the year, but would depend on when the Government called the General Election.
Under the banner 'The Party's Over', the meeting will see 40 confirmed and potential candidates gather for a series of workshop sessions, during which Mr Dunphy will address them.
He has been asked by Mr Ross to explore in his address about whether the day of the Independents in Ireland has actually arrived.
Mr Dunphy is said to be very supportive of the Independent Alliance model and could be used to launch the campaigns of candidates in the coming weeks.
Liam Weeks, of University College Cork (UCC) who has specialised on the role of independents, will also address the gathering. Journalists Sinead Ryan, Jane Suiter and Karl Whyte will engage with the candidates about how to handle and deal with the media.
In the afternoon session, MEP Marian Harkin, Senator Feargal Quinn and Alan Foy, an entrepreneur, will also speak, while TDs Michael Fitzmaurice and Finian McGrath will run a session about how to make the jump from being a councillor to being a TD.
The event which is by invitation only, is booked out.
Mr Ross has said the Alliance will shortly issue a charter to the members. This charter will be used as the basis to whether the Alliance could support a government or not.
Mr Ross said the Alliance could be formally launched in November, but insisted: "We want to get this right."
The alliance is said to have at least 20 confirmed candidates ready to contest the election, and with more to be confirmed in the coming days.