Most Independent TDs expected to support budget


INDEPENDENT TD Maureen O’Sullivan has indicated she could be prepared to support theBudget.

The Dublin Central deputy, Tony Gregory’s former election agent who won the by-election in June brought about by his death, said she was keeping an open mind.

“I don’t believe in voting no for the sake of voting no. I am open to seeing what is in the budget,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“I do accept something drastic has to be done. There’s no point in going through the blame game.”

Ms O’Sullivan said she had not been contacted by Government. She has voted with the Government occasionally, and supported the election of Fianna Fáil’s Séamus Kirk as Ceann Comhairle in October.

Meanwhile, the only other Independent TD not aligned with the Government, Finian McGrath of Dublin North Central, has ruled out backing the Budget.

“I will be voting against the Government,” he said last night.

The former Progressive Democrats and now Independent deputy Noel Grealish met with Taoiseach Brian Cowen last night. The Galway West deputy indicated another meeting could take place today.

Government chief whip Pat Carey said he was “confident” Mr Grealish would support the Coalition. The Independent TD for Kerry South, Jackie Healy-Rae, said he would support the budget after claiming he had secured a new deal with the Government.

Mr Healy-Rae’s son Cllr Michael Healy-Rae said a hospital for Kenmare was part of the agreement.

“My father will be supporting the Government because he has secured a new 40-bed hospital for Kenmare to go to construction in 2010, and a number of other very vital projects for south Kerry,” he said.

Cllr Healy-Rae said his father would vote with the Government despite the fact that the budget would be very tough. “His feeling is the country can’t continue to borrow 500 million a week.”

The Independent TD for Tipperary North Michael Lowry also looks set to continue his support for the Government.

Mr Lowry said he had a number of meetings with Ministers yesterday and was “reasonably happy” with the responses he had received from them.

He met Mr Cowen last night, seeking “confidence and reassurance … which can only be given by the Taoiseach”, and expressed himself happy with the meeting afterwards.

It is expected the budget will be supported by the three Fianna Fáil backbenchers without the party whip: Dr Jimmy Devins, Eamon Scanlon and Dr Jim McDaid.

The Green Party TDs and the Minister for Health Mary Harney, now an Independent, will also support the budget.

Mr Cowen and Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan had “expressed confidence” at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party “that we will be able to put through the budget”, according to Mr Carey.