Saturday 20 January 2018

Fine Gael TDs resort to WhatsApp to air grievances about Independents

Fine Gael politicians are users of messaging app WhatsApp
Fine Gael politicians are users of messaging app WhatsApp
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

It is perhaps a sign of the times that Fine Gael politicians have taken to using the messaging service WhatsApp to express their real views about the shenanigans in Leinster House.

And last week, the party's private group - which is administered by Leo Varadkar - exploded over the issue of the Independents who have agreed to prop up the minority Government.

One former minister was deeply unhappy about reports the Independent Alliance had struck a side deal in relation to State funding during the recent negotiations.

"How could this be allowed to happen and why weren't we informed?" the deputy wanted to know.

What this example illustrates is the deep sense of unease within Fine Gael about being kept in Government by a small group of Independents.

On Thursday, backbenchers began to spin against one of those TDs, Dr Michael Harty, who they claimed was all of a sudden demanding a junior ministry.

"That's not true. That's not my style," was the response from the Clare deputy.

But Dr Harty's comments at the weekend should come as a wake-up call for Fine Gael as the minority Government stumbles along. It may only take one slip-up, cross word or even minor controversy to prompt any of the Independents to have second thoughts about keeping Enda Kenny in office.

Fine Gael should be more concerned about keeping the Independents in tow rather than fretting over Micheál Martin's next move.

Irish Independent

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