Minister of State John Halligan has said he will resign from Government if Fine Gael pressurises his fellow Independent Alliance member Shane Ross to leave office.
Mr Halligan said the party had been wrongly critical of the Minister for Transport and had attempted to back him into difficult positions.
Mr Ross has been strongly criticised by some Fine Gael figures for his performance as part of the Government. He has been accused by some of prioritising the reform of judicial appointments over issues in his own department.
However, Mr Halligan said that the Independent Alliance was fully supportive of Mr Ross and that he would be prepared to resign as a Minister in an act of allegiance to him.
“Shane Ross is a good guy. I am completely loyal to him,” Mr Halligan said. “I know that if he came under pressure, if the Government continue to make a push on him, I will go with him. I wouldn’t have to think twice about it.”
The Waterford TD and Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation is one of five members of the Independent Alliance who are supporting the Fine Gael-led Government.
In an interview with The Irish Times, he said he had no allegiance to Fine Gael and his decision to continue to back the party depended on a number of factors.
“I want to be treated with respect and dignity,” he said. “I deserve that as a member of this Government. And if I come out fighting, I quote the Spartans and I quote King Leonidas. The biggest battle ever for democracy was the Battle of Thermopylae against the Persian army.
“When he knew they were all going to be killed, King Leonidas went to them and whispered in their ears: ‘If we have to die, from them take everything and give them nothing.’ That is my motto, and it might come to that,” Mr Halligan said.