Tuesday 19 November 2019

‘Not for me’ – Donnelly snubs Ross’s Independent alliance

Boost for Coalition as support rises 5pc in first poll of 2015

Stephen Donnelly TD
Stephen Donnelly TD

Daniel McConnell and Niall O'Connor

Independent Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly snubbed Shane Ross's proposed alliance of Independents because of a disagreement over Michael Fitzmaurice's inclusion, it was claimed last night.

Several sources close to the alliance told the Irish Independent that Mr Donnelly was "uncomfortable" with the direction of the alliance since Mr Fitzmaurice's decision to join.

Members of the alliance last night expressed their surprise at Mr Donnelly's decision to opt out, saying matters were still at a very preliminary stage.

"We hadn't even started on the key issues, so I am not even sure why he pulled out," said one source.

And Mr Fitzmaurice last night told the Irish Independent that rumours he caused Mr Donnelly's exit were a "myth".

For his part, Mr Donnelly said the shape of the alliance was "not cohesive" enough and "not for me".

"I want something with a bit more cohesion than what is on offer, so I am happy to be an Independent," he said.

He said he wished the alliance well, while also ruling himself out of joining Lucinda Creighton's new party, which will be formally launched next month.

Mr Donnelly said he was still willing to join some grouping if he found a suitable grouping to join.

Reacting to his decision to stand down, Mr Ross said: "We wish him well. I'm sorry he is not going to be part of the alliance. I respect his desire for a different vehicle."

Fellow Independent Finian McGrath said Mr Donnelly's decision to opt out was "disappointing".

Meanwhile, the Government has received a timely boost in the first opinion poll of the year, with its support increasing by 5pc.

A Red C Poll for Paddy Power bookmakers shows support for Fine Gael has increased by 3pc to 24pc, while Labour moves up 2pc to 8pc.

There is bad news for Fianna Fáil, however, as its support slips again by 1pc to 18pc, while Sinn Féin drops 3pc to 21pc.

Independents remain unchanged at 28pc, even with the announcement by Ms Creighton about the formation of her new party.

The so-far unnamed party secured 1pc of the first preference vote in the poll, but when quizzed separately, 6pc suggested they may give them a first preference vote based on what they have heard so far.

The poll shows that Fine Gael and Labour are still a long way from the 55pc of the vote they secured in February 2011, having lost 22pc of the voters since then.

The poll, compared with the last Red C poll last December, also shows public support for a clear alliance between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil at this stage.

For 29pc of Fianna Fáil supporters, the preferred coalition partners would be Fine Gael, and similarly 27pc of Fine Gael voters suggested their preferred coalition partner would be Fianna Fáil (although Labour remains a more preferred partner in government).

Less than a third of those who give their first preference to Fine Gael say they will definitely vote for the party come the next election.

Sinn Féin support falls back somewhat, with the party securing 21pc approval in this poll, down 3pc from what it achieved in December.

At the same time, satisfaction with Gerry Adams as leader has also declined since last year. The slump for Adams comes in the wake of the Maíria Cahill sex-abuse controversy.

It is also clear that opinion on the party remains divided among the electorate, with 52pc of all adults saying they would never vote Sinn Féin.

There are indications of support for the alliance of Independent candidates including Shane Ross and Michael Fitzmaurice, with 12pc of voters suggesting they would definitely vote for this approach if candidates were available to them. The great majority (80pc) of those that express a preference continue to claim they would support the referendum for same-sex marriage rights.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section