Independent Alliance issues ultimatum to Sean Canney

Former junior minister is understood to be consulting supporters before making decision

In an arrangement that was brokered after the general election in 2016, it was agreed that Sean Canney, pictured, and Kevin ’Boxer’ Moran would rotate the ministry.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

In an arrangement that was brokered after the general election in 2016, it was agreed that Sean Canney, pictured, and Kevin ’Boxer’ Moran would rotate the ministry. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The Independent Alliance has issued Sean Canney with an ultimatum telling him he must decide whether he wants to remain part of the group by Friday.

Mr Canney is understood to be considering his future with the alliance following his failure last week to be reinstated as a Minister of State.

The Galway East TD was contacted by Minister of State John Halligan yesterday and urged to publicly state whether he wishes to stay on with the alliance.

Mr Halligan told Mr Canney the dispute was damaging the group and requested clarity on his position by Friday.

It is understood Mr Canney was also asked about his decision to vote against the alliance’s proposals on drink-driving contained in the controversial Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill in the Dáil on Tuesday night.

Mr Halligan told The Irish Times: “I was asked by the Independent Alliance to make contact and I did. It was not a hostile conversation but I think we need to know whether he wants to be a member of the alliance or not.

“We hope we will have clarification by the weekend. We obviously hope he stays but that is a matter for him to decide now.”

The Irish Times contacted Mr Canney yesterday but was unable to reach him.

Consulting supporters

It is understood he told Mr Halligan he would be consulting his supporters over the coming days before making a final decision.

He also defended his decision to oppose the Bill insisting his opposition had been known to the alliance for some time. Mr Canney said he was assured there was a free vote on the legislation.

Mr Canney is also believed to have met Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday to discuss the dispute and his future.

While he is is thought to be on the verge of leaving the five-member alliance, he ie eager to continue to support the Government on a case-to-case basis.

Mr Canney is also looking for clarity on whether he continue in his role as assistant Government chief whip, which earns him an additional €15,000 on top of his TDs salary.

The dispute centres on a row over who should remain as Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works.

In an arrangement that was brokered after the general election in 2016, it was agreed that Mr Canney and Kevin ’Boxer’ Moran would rotate the ministry.

Took over

Mr Canney was minister for the first year, after which Mr Moran took over the position.

However, when the second anniversary of the Government approached Mr Canney argued to the Alliance that the position should rotate back to him.

The other members of the Alliance backed Mr Moran’s argument that given the uncertainty about the longevity of the Government, the understanding had always been that there be one arrangement.

The three founding members of the group - Minister for Transport Shane Ross, Minister of State with special responsibility for disability Finian McGrath and Mr Halligan - have ministerial jobs for the duration of the Government’s term.

While the role has triggered the dispute, it is understood relations between Mr Canney and members of the alliance have soured in recent months.