Saturday 16 December 2017

Second member of Alliance hints at forming political party

Peter Matthews,Terence Flanagan, Fidelma Healy Eames, Lucinda Creighton, Billy Timmins,Denis Naughten and Paul Bradford at the Reform Conference.
Peter Matthews,Terence Flanagan, Fidelma Healy Eames, Lucinda Creighton, Billy Timmins,Denis Naughten and Paul Bradford at the Reform Conference.

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

A SECOND member of the Reform Alliance has indicated that the group of TDs and senators may look to form a fully fledged political party.

Senator Paul Bradford said he and his colleagues had come under pressure from supporters to set up a party and said that such a move could not be ruled out.

Some 1,000 people turned out at the Reform Alliance conference on Saturday, which has been described as a 'monster rally'.

Mr Bradford's wife and former European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton received a standing ovation after she defended the decision by rebel Fine Gael TDs to vote against the abortion legislation.

It has emerged that the group, which is made up of five TDs and two senators, are now planning further events across the country.

However, the Reform Alliance has come under criticism by their former colleagues, with one Fine Gael TD describing them as being merely "anti-Enda Kenny".

Focus has now switched on to exactly when the Reform Alliance will move to become a fully fledged political party. While Ms Creighton said she was "blue in the face" at being asked that question, both Mr Bradford and Galway senator Fidelma Healy Eames have insisted that such a move could be taken in the future.

"I appreciate that a lot of people are saying to us, 'set up a political party'. Our current work in progress is simply to be good politicians in the Dail or Seanad, to be constructive and to be positive," Mr Bradford told Today Fm's 'Savage Sunday'.

"I'm not going ruling out anything but I can't second-guess where will be in six or 12 months' time," he added.

However, a number of Fine Gael and Labour figures have questioned the intentions of the Reform Alliance following their conference on Saturday.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said that Ms Creighton was "box office" from the perspective of media but questioned what the group stands for. "Lucinda Creighton was a good junior minister and I thought she did a splendid job during the European Presidency," he told RTE radio.

"And I think she is box office as far as the media is concerned. But I haven't seen any of the ideas. I haven't seen anything other than a feel-good argument that we're not like the others and we're in favour of reform."

Fine Gael TD for Limerick, Patrick O'Donovan, said he believed the group had become an "unnecessary distraction".

"I just can't take them seriously, to be honest. I'm more interested in my local river bursting its banks than what they are up to on a Saturday afternoon.

"It's quite clear to me and others that all the Reform Alliance really are is a group that is anti-Enda Kenny," he told the Irish Independent.

Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan said he believed the group shared "very little in terms of common ground".

"Getting 1,000 people inside the RDS is a commendable achievement. I don't doubt their sincerity – I know them. I've worked with them. But the best option for all seven of them is to come back into Fine Gael and I hope that happens," he said.

Irish Independent

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