Independents ‘will not’ re-enter talks until FG-FF dialogue ends

‘We are stepping back from talks until parties agree they will give support to each other’

Four of the Independent TDs had earlier encouraged their colleagues to vote for the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin (above).  Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Four of the Independent TDs had earlier encouraged their colleagues to vote for the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin (above). Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

The 14 Independent TDs have insisted they will not re-enter negotiations with Fine Gael until discussions with Fianna Fáil have concluded.

The six members of the Independent Alliance, the five rural TDs, the Healy-Rae brothers and Maureen O’Sullivan abstained in the vote for taoiseach on Thursday.

They confirmed they will not participate in any more negotiations until talks between the two parties have reached the end.

However, some Independents admitted privately they must move quickly if they want to agree a deal with Fine Gael.

One said: “We know now that we have to act fast especially if we want to have any influence in the next government. We can’t hold out for much longer.”

Four of the Independent TDs had earlier encouraged their colleagues to vote for the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Mattie McGrath, Noel Grealish and the two Healy-Rae brothers called on the Independents to support Mr Martin.

Angry reaction

However, others reacted angrily to the proposition, insisting the Fianna Fáil leader had issued them with an ultimatum ahead of the Dáil vote.

Mr Martin had contacted all Independent TDs in the discussions calling on them to support him or Mr Kenny in the vote.

Independent Alliance TD John Halligan said the Independents had a “gun put to their head” by the Fianna Fáil leader.

He said: “We made the decision that we could not support either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail. It was the right decision.

“We cannot declare until we know what we are being asked to support. Fianna Fáil shouldn’t have put us in that position.”

The 14 TDs met in Agriculture House on Kildare Street on Thursday morning and agreed to abstain in the vote.

They also agreed not to participate in any further talks until the two parties agree the way forward.

In a joint statement, the TDs said: “We are stepping back from the talks on the formation of a new government with both parties until they agree a reciprocal agreement that they will give mutual support to each other, in the event of either party leader becoming taoiseach in a minority government.

Three-Budget commitment

“We require that they agree to a minimum of three Budgets in order to give stability to the Irish people.

“We are offering to facilitate both parties in this task in any way that will hasten the formation of a government.”

Independents Katherine Zappone and Michael Lowry voted for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.

Ms Zappone said she was not invited to the meeting of the 14 Independent TDs.

She had stated she would abstain but said on reflection it was time to act.

The Independent TD said: “I hope that my vote today for Enda Kenny as taoiseach brings us closer to forming a minority government – one wherein all members of the Dáil will have more say in how the business of the Dáil is conducted and how to make law, so that we can get on with the work that all our constituents want us to do.

“After seven weeks – while the public has waited – I believe that this is the right thing for me to do.

“That is why I am supporting Enda Kenny for Taoiseach.”