Another new alliance surfaces on the Irish political landscape

Threesome hopes to have added clout

 

The promise of “an exciting new political venture” loses much of its bite when only three elected representatives are involved. As things stand, the latest group of Independent TDs will have their work cut out to show where this promised excitement will come from and what differences they can make in changing administrative practices and the political system. One of the first questions Stephen Donnelly, Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall will be asked tomorrow is whether they intend to go the whole hog and establish a political party or muddle through with an informal alliance.

What is certain is that they hope to be involved in the formation of the next government and to influence its policies. For the past number of months, as support for Independent candidates remained at historically high levels, they have watched the emergence of Renua, led by Lucinda Creighton, and the formation of a loose alliance of Independents led by Shane Ross, and considered their options. They have now agreed to work together and offer “a new credible choice to the Irish electorate”.

In politics, as elsewhere, strength lies in numbers. Because of that, a pledge of support from three Independents would be more attractive – in terms of forming a government – than from individual TDs. On the plus side, they are strong-minded, socially-committed politicians, likely to retain their seats. On economic issues, however, they differ. Both Ms Murphy and Ms Shortall have Labour Party antecedents while Mr Donnelly holds centre-right views .

Political circumstances may be kind to them. Economic and political turmoil in Greece could damage Sinn Féin’s appeal because of its support for Syriza policies. At the same time, the role of Independents like Ms Murphy and Mick Wallace, in exposing dubious financial transactions, has resonated strongly with the electorate and suggests a new departure. Whether Independents can capitalise on this situation by forming like-minded negotiating groups is uncertain. Post-election arithmetic will provide the answer.