‘Coalition’ parties to meet Independents as they seek further support

Rural Independents TD plans to raise issue of infrastructure outside major cities

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: he  said  he would like to see the new government have at least 90 TDs to ensure its viability. Photograph: getty Images

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: he said he would like to see the new government have at least 90 TDs to ensure its viability. Photograph: getty Images

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Independent TDs are set to meet Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens as the three parties seek to bolster support for the proposed new administration.

Briefings on the programme for government are being arranged for this week, sources have said, in the hope of luring at least six Independents either into government or to support the government from outside.

Limerick TD Richard O’Donoghue of the Rural Independents, which also includes Mattie McGrath, Michael Healy-Rae, Danny Healy-Rae, Carol Nolan and Michael Collins, said the group held a meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss its response to the document.

Mr O’Donoghue said he would be raising the issue of infrastructure outside of the major cities.

“Ireland’s infrastructure is completely lacking once you leave the city,” he said, adding that he would also raise the issue of experience in the new cabinet.

He said any new Minister needed to have “experience of the sectors they represent”, and that Ministers needed to represent “different geographical areas”.

Independents Marian Harkin, Michael McNamara and Michael Fitzmaurice will also be offered briefings, and Ms Harkin said she intended to lobby for greater regional development.

Galway East TD Sean Canney said “there are a lot of words in that document, a lot of ‘reviews’, a lot of ‘considerations’. But we should not be robbing the roads to pay for something else. We have had a huge deficit in roads development. Some of the roads are not fit for a bicycle.”

Mr Canney said he believed there was nothing to talk about yet as “until the members of each party decide which way they go with it, it is pointless discussing something which may or may not be on the table. The people who brought this document together need to decide what to do with it.”

Briefings

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said this week that briefings were being organised for the Independents on the programme for government as he would like to see the new government have at least 90 TDs to ensure its viability.

“We look forward to discussing with them whether some of them are willing to support the government and the programme for government because we would like to get that figure of 84 people supporting the government up a little bit higher, maybe closer to 90, which gives us security that will help us ensure that the government and the Dáil go to full term.”

He said there was “lots in this programme for rural Ireland”.

It is also understood that members of the Green Party have privately expressed concerns about facilitating access to Ministers for those Independent TDs who support the government from the outside.

At a previous meeting with Mr Varadkar some Independents were told they would be given a programme for government when it was agreed, and were left with the impression that they would be supporting an administration from outside.