Several Independent TDs ‘undecided’ on whether to support election of Simon Harris as taoiseach

Fine Gael leader, who is set to be voted into role next week, has ruled out ‘transactional’ deals

A number of Independent TDs have said they remain “undecided” as to whether they will support the Government and vote to elect Fine Gael leader Simon Harris as taoiseach next week.

Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick and Roscommon–Galway TD Denis Naughten, both former Fine Gael members, said they hoped to meet Mr Harris over the coming days and would then make a decision in advance of next Tuesday’s vote.

Galway East TD Seán Canney, a minister of State in the last government, also said he hoped to meet Mr Harris before the vote.

The Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael-Green Party Coalition holds a slim on-paper majority, but its numbers have been bolstered in confidence votes by support from the ranks of Independents, including some former members of the Government parties.


Tipperary-based Independent TD Michael Lowry, a former Fine Gael minister, also said he was undecided and would be meeting local councillors and constituents before making a decision.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Harris ruled out doing deals with Independents in exchange for their support in next week’s vote. He said he would hold meetings this week with Independents who have voted with the Government in the past, but he warned these discussions would not be “transactional”.

Mr Lowry said he had not read those remarks but added: “Sometimes you have to face the political reality. I’m sure there will be a stage during his [Mr Harris’s] political leadership that he will need Independent’s, without doubt.”

Mr Fitzpatrick said Mr Harris had held out “an olive branch” asking to meet, adding “let’s see what happens”.

“I have a few ideas so hopefully we’ll have a good chat at the end of the week. It wouldn’t be fair for me to discuss those publicly just yet,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

Mr Canney said he wanted to raise the issues of housing, the cost-of-living crisis and costs for small businesses in a meeting with Mr Harris.

“I won’t know what way I’ll be voting until I meet him,” Mr Canney said. “Deals with Independents sometimes can be glamorised but I just want to run a few things by him about what his plans would be, especially for rural Ireland.”

Independent TDs Michael Healy-Rae, Danny Healy-Rae, Carol Nolan and Verona Murphy have confirmed they will not be supporting the new Fine Gael leader.

Michael McNamara, Independent TD for Clare, also said he was strongly leaning towards not supporting Mr Harris. He said this view was influenced by Mr Harris’s record to date, in particular as minister for health.

Former Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry said he would be supporting Mr Harris, as did former Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times