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Independent streak a boon for outsiders

As independent candidates battle to influence the formation of the next Dail, Jimmy Guerin has claimed that "the integrity of the election has been brought into question" by what he describes as "the lies" being told by Sinn Fein, New Vision and the United Left Alliance.

"Its very easy for them to talk about 'burning the bondholders' but it's a very simplistic and populist position to take," said the independent candidate in Dublin North- East.

"They are exploiting the fears of the electorate. But who is going to pay social welfare, who is going to pay pensions, who is going to pay the salaries of public servants if this happens?"

Guerin, a former local election candidate, said that the new government needs independents "who are not going to hold the country to ransom" but will work in the national interest to try to restore confidence in the Irish economy.

He has also accused Sinn Fein of trying to intimidate his campaign workers in the north Dublin suburbs during the campaign.

With independents at 14 per cent in today's Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll, 37 per cent of those polled say they are more likely to vote for independents in the belief that they will shore up a Fine Gael majority government.

Meanwhile, independent General Election candidate in Laois-Offaly, James Fanning, said there must be economic and political reforms to save Ireland's sovereignty.

He said that the public had been "denied access to crucial information" surrounding the bank guarantee and EU/IMF bailout.

He has also become one of the few election candidates to oppose the abolition of the Seanad, saying this would further weaken Irish democracy.

Mr Fanning, a Birr-based businessman, has said that Ireland's future depends on 'debt forgiveness', with bank bondholders sharing the pain through a negotiated settlement.

"This will help give vital room for our banks to release capital so they can lend or give mortgage extensions to families in arrears or businesses struggling," he said.

He has also called for the restructuring of Nama.

"This is now where our money is. Therefore Nama needs to be converted into a sovereign wealth fund, so it can raise funds on the international bond markets (like any other semi-state body), as Ireland Inc has been forced out," he said.

"As a result of its restructuring, Nama will be forced to refocus on getting best value on its books and releasing ghost estates for vital social housing. My constituency of Laois/ Offaly has being blighted by poor planning. Many of these are now under the control of NAMA and need to be used for the people."

Two independent candidates in Wexford have also been setting out their electoral stalls.

Ruairi de Valera, a 50-year-old member of the extended de Valera clan, said that he had never felt the urge to contest an election until now. He has promised that if elected he will work with all the Wexford TDs in the interests of the county.

"I do not believe it is the job of an individual to hold a gun to the head of government on an issue-by-issue basis, as this type of bullying tactic only leads to favours given and favours owed," he said.

Siobhan Roseingrave is the only female independent contesting the Wexford constituency.

She is concerned about the under-representation of women in Irish politics.

"Gender equality is not a luxury, it's a legal right which currently does not exist in Irish politics," she said.

Sunday Independent