Independents warn not to take support for granted

Fine Gael optimistic on deal with Independents and Enda Kenny’s return as Taoiseach

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the GAA all-Ireland under 21 football championship final between Cork and Mayo in Ennis, Co Clare: Fine Gael hopes he will be elected Taoiseach this week. Photograph:  ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the GAA all-Ireland under 21 football championship final between Cork and Mayo in Ennis, Co Clare: Fine Gael hopes he will be elected Taoiseach this week. Photograph: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

 

Independent TDs have warned that their agreement on a programme for government this week cannot be taken for granted ahead of a meeting with Fine Gael negotiators this morning.

With an agreement to support a minority government in place with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael Ministers are optimistic they can conclude a deal with Independent TDs quickly and see Enda Kenny re-elected as Taoiseach this week.

The Independents yesterday warned they had several issues that needed agreement on or no deal would be forthcoming.

Talks between the six Independent Alliance TDs and Fine Gael are due to recommence at Government Buildings at 10am, while a meeting with the looser rural alliance of Independent TDs is scheduled for 6pm today.

Timetable

Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice said “we’re a long way from a deal”.

All the Independent TDs expressed concern they had not yet seen the draft agreement reached by Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil on Friday.

Mr Fitzmaurice said he wanted to raise the issue of people on group water schemes and the future of their €100 water conservation grant.

Fine Gael sources say most of the Independents’ requests can be met. However, their concern is whether the Independents – if they do join the government – can be counted on to stay there.

“They will have to get their heads around the fact that the government has to stick together,” said a Fine Gael Minister.

If only Fianna Fáil abstains, Mr Kenny needs 58 votes to secure a Dáil majority, although that number may change with further abstentions.

Doubtful

Shane RossJohn Halligan

It is also courting the votes of the so-called “rural alliance” of Independent TDs – Denis Naughten, Dr Michael Harty, Mattie McGrath, Noel Grealish and Michael Collins – though it is thought unlikely that Mr Grealish or Mr McGrath will join any government.

Kerry TDs Michael and Danny Healy-Rae differed yesterday on approaches to government, with Michael suggesting he may support Mr Kenny while Danny rejected the idea.

Fine Gael negotiators also hope Maureen O’Sullivan, who is not aligned to anyone, may support Mr Kenny.

He is already assured of the support of Dublin South West TD Katherine Zappone, and of Tipperary’s Michael Lowry.