Thursday 26 April 2018

Left-wing TDs ditch plan for new Dail grouping over rights

John Halligan: discussions
John Halligan: discussions

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

LABOUR rebels and other left- wing TDs have abandoned plans to form a new grouping in the Dail, with some deputies also ditching plans to join the Technical Group of Independents.

TDs involved in trying to set up a new group from those who left the Labour parliamentary party and other left-leaning TDs have said the plans were now "on ice".

Roisin Shortall, who resigned as junior health minister, held informal discussions with some TDs, such as Waterford Independent John Halligan about a new group.

But sources say this has now been abandoned, since the Government is unwilling to change Dail rules to allow the new Independents extra speaking time.

One source said those involved in attempting to form the left-wing group only recently realised they would not even be allowed join the Technical Group of Independent TDs.

Membership of the group gives deputies more speaking time, but Dail rules also say you can only join if you were elected as an Independent TD or a TD for a party with less than seven seats, for example, the People Before Profit Alliance.

"That is on ice," a left-wing TD said of moves to form a new group. "They did attempt to form another group and whatever information they had was misinformation, and they can't join the Technical Group."

Mr Halligan said it was unfair that speaking time was restricted for people just because they lost the party whip. "I think it is wrong that a good, competent TD would not have speaking rights in the Dail," he said.

Meanwhile, the TDs and senators expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party are preparing to give their new group an official name ahead of the new term next week.

It comes after the six TDs and two senators involved in the group insisted they would not be forming a new party.

Members of the group, which includes former European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton, say they want to make sure they are no longer given the label of Fine Gael "rebels".

Most of the group left the Fine Gael parliamentary party after voting against the Government's abortion legislation, although Roscommon TD Denis Naughten left over cuts to his local hospital.

The group comprises TDs Brian Walsh, Terence Flanagan, Billy Timmins, Peter Mathews, Mr Naughten and Ms Creighton, as well as senators Paul Bradford and Fidelma Healy-Eames.

NAMES

Some of the names being considered are understood to include "New Agenda" or "Democratic Reform".

However, some divisions have emerged in the group, with Galway West TD Mr Walsh raising concerns about the position being taken by some members of the group on the Seanad, with many opposed to its abolition.

Fine Gael promised to abolish the Seanad in its election manifesto and it is understood Mr Walsh raised concerns at a meeting yesterday that this could look hypocritical.

Irish Independent

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