Independent TDs in talks on forming a new party

Alliance of prominent Independents would challenge potential Shane Ross grouping

Independent TDs Catherine Murphy, Stephen Donnelly and Róisín Shortall: in talks in talks on forming a new party.

Independent TDs Catherine Murphy, Stephen Donnelly and Róisín Shortall: in talks in talks on forming a new party.

 

Three prominent Independent TDs have been involved in talks on forming a new party that will challenge Shane Ross’s prospective alliance and Renua Ireland in the battle for non-aligned voters.

Catherine Murphy, Róisín Shortall and Stephen Donnelly are believed to have held talks about the possibility of a new party in recent months and may be close to agreement.

Ms Shortall, a TD for Dublin North West who left the Labour Party in 2012, said she was “very keen” to talk to people to establish whether there is room for another new political party ahead of the next election.

Similarly, Ms Murphy, an Independent TD for Kildare North, confirmed she is “talking to lots of people”, but had not made up her mind. 

Mr Donnelly, who represents Wicklow, also said that talks had taken place.

“I am talking to people. Out of respect for the conversations and their privacy I will not comment on it more than that. There are conversations going on between various people with a view to working [towards something]”.

Senator Averil Power, who recently left Fianna Fáil, said last night she had not spoken to any of the three TDs about joining a new group. Senator Katherine Zappone has also been mentioned as a participant. She was not contactable for comment last night.

The new grouping would compete with the as-yet unformed alliance of Independent TDs and councillors being co-ordinated by Mr Ross and to a lesser extent with Renua, for the support of voters who say they do not support any of the established parties. That cohort has consistently ranked over 20 per cent in polls over the past two years.

In contrast, the TDs mentioned in the context of Mr Ross’s group – himself, Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Michael Fitzmaurice – are a more diverse group ranging from leftists to economically right-wing.

If formed, the new group is likely to be more cohesive than Mr Ross’s group in terms of policy and ideology.

While Mr Donnelly is seen as tilting right in economic policy, there would be far greater consensus among the names being suggested on social policy, giving a left-of-centre outlook.

Collaborative approach

She said she has been focused on the issues to do with Irish Banking Resolution Corporation for the past number of weeks. 

Mr Donnelly said he was interested in “a cohesive social democratic movement that can offer real economic competence, that is pro-enterprise, and that has a fundamentally better vision of Irish society”.

He added: “It would have to be a movement that embodies foreign direct investment and replicates that success for indigenous industry.”

Thomas Pringle, the Independent TD for Donegal, said he had not been approached and would remain Independent for now.

He said he believed the way forward for him would not be a party but some form of alliance, that would agree on “a core group of policies that would be geared towards shaping, and changing the direction of, society”.

Mr McGrath said he was aware of the talks but that work on his and Mr Ross’s alliance continued. “We are continuing our work talking to Independent councillors, men and women.”