At least 22 Independent Alliance candidates to run in general election

Former Green Party deputy Paul Gogarty among candidates at Alliance think-in

Shane Ross: ‘We are an identifiable group standing together with a common name.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Shane Ross: ‘We are an identifiable group standing together with a common name.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

At least 22 candidates will run for the Independent Alliance in the next general election, including former Green Party deputy Paul Gogarty.

Mr Gogarty, a councillor in Dublin Mid-West, was among candidates at the alliance think-in on Saturday, in the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone.

Other candidates in attendance were councillors Lorna Nolan, Niamh Kennedy, Kevin Callan, Deirdre O’Donovan, Seán Canney, Kevin “Boxer” Moran, Niamh Kennedy, Tony Murphy, John Foley, Marie Casserly, Willie Crowley, Maeve Yore, journalist Carol Hunt and accountant James Morgan. The names of three other candidates are to be released in the next few weeks.

The alliance is a grouping of Independents made up of five TDs – Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, Michael Fitzmaurice, John Halligan and Tom Fleming – along with Senators Fergal Quinn and Gerard Craughwell. All five TDs plan to run in the general election, and Mr Craughwell will run again for the Seanad, though Mr Quinn, who is chairman of the alliance, will not.

The day-long think-in in Athlone included contributions from broadcaster Eamon Dunphy, Independent MEP Marian Harkin, Dr Jane Suiter of Dublin City University and journalist Sinead Ryan.

It was opened by Dr Liam Weeks, of University College Cork, who has written about the role of Independents both at home and abroad.

Among the issues raised were how members of the alliance, which has not yet officially been launched, can identify themselves on ballot papers.

Under Irish law, only members of a registered party can identify themselves on a ballot paper as part of a grouping.

Shane Ross told The Irish Times they would consider taking legal action if legal advice, to be received in the next few days, was that they could take a case to force the Independent Alliance on to the ballot paper.

“We are an identifiable group standing together with a common name. We are an association, but we are not a political party, and we think it’s very unfair that you have to be a political party to be identified on the ballot paper,” he said.

“We don’t have equal rights in this case and it’s the parties loading it up for themselves once again in order to stop Independents.”

Mr Ross said the alliance will issue a charter to include key policies, but said they would not be rushed into releasing it. He also said they were in discussions with other potential alliance candidates and the numbers could grow beyond 22.

Also speaking after the think-in, Mr McGrath said the charter would contain key policies, including ending cronyism.

“We are looking at . . . the issue of appointment of judges; people who are members of parties appointed on to the judiciary, all that kind of sleazy cronyism that’s going on.”

Other key issues include “real political reform”, and the grouping is looking at health, disabilities, rural Ireland, and Irish Water, Mr McGrath said.

He said that while they had not reached consensus on Irish Water, there was consensus that it was “a disaster”.

“We are absolutely disgusted the Government is giving back money to people and it’s going to cost €160 million and they are cutting the respite grant at the same time,” he said.