An unseemly tussle

Independent Alliance

The row between Kevin “Boxer” Moran (left), the current Minister of State at the Office of Public Works, and his predecessor in the post Sean Canney (right) over who should hold it for third year has been unseemly and destabilising.

The dispute between two members of the Independent Alliance over which of them should be a junior minister is a reminder of just how flimsy the Government’s foundations are.

The row between Kevin "Boxer" Moran, the current Minister of State at the Office of Public Works, and his predecessor in the post Sean Canney over who should hold the job for a third year has been unseemly and destabilising.

A proposal that all five Independence Alliance members vote to decide the issue was discussed but ultimately abandoned

The two men tossed a coin for the role when the Government was formed in May 2016. Canney, a TD from East Galway, won and went on to serve for the first 12 months of the Fine Gael-led Government, handing over to Moran, who was elected for Longford Westmeath, for the second year.

Now that the Government is entering its third year Canney wanted another term in the post but Moran refused to leave maintaining that he should serve out the remainder of the Government’s term, however long that happens to be. A proposal that all five Independence Alliance members vote to decide the issue was discussed but ultimately abandoned and the consensus in the group was that Moran should win the argument and stay in office for as long as the Government lasts.

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Members of the Independent Alliance John Halligan, Finian McGrath, Kevin “Boxer” Moran, Shane Ross and Sean Canney. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Limited ambitions

The tussle over a ministerial post speaks volumes about the limited ambitions of the Independent Alliance and its contribution to the operations of Government. All five members of the alliance have held office at some stage during the Government's term but, with the exception of Finian McGrath, who has made a serious effort to improve disability services, it is difficult to see what positive contribution they have made. Shane Ross, leader of the alliance, has appeared more concerned with minor constituency issues like Stepaside Garda station and settling scores with the judiciary than making a serious contribution to the country's transport policy.

All of this highlights the weakness of the current arrangement and raises questions about whether another administration dependent on a diverse group of Independents can provide the stability the country needs after the next election.