Independent Alliance in crisis over North Korea visit plan

Angry exchanges as members say group has been exposed to ridicule over issue

Kevin “Boxer” Moran said he had been embarrassed by the proposed peace trip to North Korea by some of the Independent Alliance’s  members. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Kevin “Boxer” Moran said he had been embarrassed by the proposed peace trip to North Korea by some of the Independent Alliance’s members. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The Independent Alliance group of five TDs, which forms part of the Government side in the Dáil, has been thrown into its most serious crisis yet over the proposed peace trip by some of its members to North Korea.

Angry exchanges have taken place between members in recent days and two of them, Seán Canney and Kevin “Boxer” Moran, believe the group has been left open to ridicule.

Mr Moran said he had been left embarrassed by the whole affair. “It did embarrass me and they know my feelings on that now,” he said.

“This was a car crash waiting to happen,” said one source about the proposal that Alliance Ministers John Halligan, Shane Ross and Finian McGrath travel to North Korea on a peace mission.

The source claimed the three Ministers “didn’t listen to anyone, they didn’t bounce their ideas off anyone and they are in their own mess now”.

Mr Moran met Mr Ross and Mr McGrath on Monday evening and is said to have “ate them”.

Some well-placed sources suggested Mr Canney, in particular, was questioning his membership of the Alliance and was urging Mr Moran to quit also. But other sources close to Mr Canney insisted he only wanted to create distance over the North Korea issue.

Mr Halligan was embroiled in further controversy yesterday when the Workplace Relations Commission awarded €7,500 to a female official after the Waterford TD asked during a job interview if she was married.

It is understood other members of the Alliance were not informed of the case before it emerged publicly. Labour TD Seán Sherlock later called on Mr Halligan to resign.

Mr Ross’s behaviour in the Alliance has come into sharp focus in recent days, with some criticism of what is perceived as his unwillingness to take advice.

His handling of the rail strike, particularly his communication to the wider public, is understood to have caused anger.

The Alliance is also currently rowing with Fine Gael over proposed changes to local electoral boundaries.