Seán Canney steps down as Assistant Government Whip

Galway East TD, who left Independent Alliance last week, said role had become a distraction

Seán Canney  left the Independent Alliance following a disagreement over the allocation of a junior ministerial post. Photograph: Collins

Seán Canney left the Independent Alliance following a disagreement over the allocation of a junior ministerial post. Photograph: Collins

 

Galway East Independent TD Seán Canney is to step down as Assistant Government Whip, saying his remaining in the position had “become a distraction” from his priority which was to serve his constituents.

Mr Canney last week left the Independent Alliance following a disagreement over the allocation of a junior ministerial post.

Mr Canney served as junior minister for the Office of Public Works for the first year of the coalition government. He wanted to return to the post after another independent Alliance member Kevin Boxer Moran completed a year in the post.

However, while Mr Canney believed the job should return to him, his colleagues in the Independent Alliance disagreed.

After weeks of disagreement Mr Canney announced he was leaving the group but said he would continue to support the Government on budgetary and confidence issues.

Mr Canney has filled the job of assistant whip for the past year, a role seen in political circles as a consolation prize for having stepped down from the junior minister’s job last year.

Annual allowance of €15,000

The whip’s post carried an annual allowance of €15,000.

At a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Tuesday, the Independent Alliance said it would not accept Mr Canney retaining the position and would not be held to account by him.

The political grouping said they would allow the position to return to Fine Gael rather than allow Mr Canney retain it.

The Alliance has appointed John Halligan as its co-ordinator but he cannot replace Mr Canney as he is a Minister of State.

Mr Canney said his decision to resign from the post and his decision to resign from the Independent Alliance last week were “based on principle, not position.”

“The issue of the Assistant Government Chief Whip has become a distraction from my main priority, which has always been to serve the interests of the people of Galway East,” Mr Canney said.

“I will continue to support the Government on budgetary and confidence issues.

“It is important that we maintain a stable Government, when we have so many pressing matters, nationally and locally.”