Independent Alliance ministers are rallying councillors and candidates for upcoming elections, promising them an inside track to government business and “privileged access” to information.
The coalition partners are hosting a summit this month to mark two years in government. The meeting will go ahead despite a power struggle over a ministerial post between two alliance TDs this week.
The Irish Examiner has obtained a letter signed by all five Alliance TDs which says the coalition partners will review their performance in government, push for more pay for councillors, and plan for upcoming elections.
Ministers Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, John Halligan, and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and TD Sean Canney will host the conference for councillors in Athlone, Westmeath, on April 28.
The letter says: “The conference is being held to coincide with the upcoming second anniversary of the entry of the Independent Alliance into government following the 2016 general election and will review the performance of the IA in government to date, assess what the IA priorities should be for the remainder of the term of this government, and discuss what the IA can do in government to support the work of independent councillors.”
The alliance held a similar conference last year, a year after running more than 20 candidates in the 2016 general election. It is known Mr Ross and the group want to prepare the ground for next year’s May local elections and also get more politicians into the Dáil and Seanad.
The letter to councillors promised the ministers would also push for greater pay for them.
“We have for example recently made it very clear to relevant Fine Gael ministers that the hard work of councillor in what is, for many, a full-time job, must be properly recognised and remunerated and that there must be an urgent root and branch review of councillors’ terms and conditions,” said the letter.
“We will keep the pressure on using our clout in government to secure the right outcome for councillors.”
The alliance ministers promise to give special access to information, over and above that given by other Independents.
The letter adds: “Other supports which we provide to our IA councillors include visits by our four IA ministers to IA councillors, sometimes making key announcements for the area.
“We also keep in regular contact with our IA councillors, keeping them full informed of key developments and announcements and giving IA councillors privileged access to information not available to other councillors.”
Independent Oireachtas members and councillors, not with the alliance, are frustrated that an “inside track” on government business is being promised by ministers.
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