Sunday 21 January 2018

Reform Alliance is now seeking 'a third way'

Lucinda Creighton pictured at the Reform Alliance conference in the RDS last weekend
Lucinda Creighton pictured at the Reform Alliance conference in the RDS last weekend
John Drennan

John Drennan

A decisive shift against the prospect of forming a conventional political party has occurred within the ranks of the Reform Alliance in the wake of the RDS conference.

Instead the group is trying to find "a third way" of organising via a loose federation of like-minded independents who would share a common policy platform.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, the putative leader of any such party Deputy Lucinda Creighton said: "The sort of reform we are looking for is not going to be achieved if we merely ape the way things have been done in the past."

Her position was echoed by Senator Paul Bradford who said: "There is a capacity for like-minded politicians to sign up for a common platform, old party structures are not necessarily the way to operate in the future."

He added: "We believe there is a third way, a group of independents, 10-15 running on a common policy initiative, could achieve real change after the next election, we will find out I suppose."

Another critical factor, however, within the decision of the grouping was the absolute refusal of the Roscommon South Leitrim TD Denis Naughten to contest the next election as part of a political party.

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He added: "I have no difficulty being part of a parliamentary grouping, but I will not be joining a political party, that will not be happening."

In an intriguing development, however, the Sunday Independent has learnt that a group of left-wing deputies are moving closer to forming an alternative alliance of their own. A 'Joint Declaration' by three independent TDs – John Halligan, Catherine Murphy and Thomas Pringle – called Independent Thought- United Vision, has been circulated to a number of "like-minded TDs and senators".

Mr Halligan told the Sunday Independent that "we want to attract people that are like-minded independents; this document provides us with a starting point from where we can move the process on subsequently".

The declaration, crafted after a series of ongoing discussions between independent TDs, has been circulated to Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, Stephen Donnelly, Roisin Shortall, Patrick Nulty and Maureen O'Sullivan.

It is believed a number of senators and up to 25 councillors are preparing to join the alliance whose statement of unifying principles notes that "all political parties . . . have betrayed the aspirations of the citizens that voted them into power'' and pledges that as independents "we agree to work together for the improvement of society".

The document adds that "in agreeing to work together we believe our cohesiveness eliminates the need for a whip system".

Mr Halligan said: "This is a genuine attempt to get independents to stand together in a cohesive fashion, and if we can bring people together, then who knows. Those subscribing to this charter want to rebuild trust and integrity in the political system."

Irish Independent

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