Alliance still awaits Canney decision

Kevin 'Boxer' Moran and Sean Canney

Independent Alliance members expect that TD Sean Canney will leave the political group after a spat over whether he or colleague Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran holds the title of junior minister.

The Galway East TD is in negotiations with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s office about securing an alternative government-linked role if he quits the Alliance. 

This would potentially secure his support for important Dáil votes for the minority Government.

The dispute centres on an alleged agreement to rotate the position of OPW minister between Mr Canney and Mr Moran. Originally, the decision on who took up the post first was decided on with the toss of a coin.

Alliance sources were not optimistic about the row being resolved last night and a decision was still awaited from Mr Canney on whether he will remain in the group or not.

Relations between Mr Canney and Alliance de facto leader, Transport Minister Shane Ross, are also strained with the latter said to be angry that the TD opposed Government road safety legislation during the week. 

It is understood that Mr Canney, who is a deputy chief whip, was told by the Government not to go back into the Dáil chamber on Wednesday evening and vote against the anti-drink driving bill.

Government figures are waiting on the Galway politician’s response. This comes after a quasi-offer from the Taoiseach for the TD to get an alternative type of junior ministerial role, which would not include extra pay.

This would be in Housing and could mirror the position of Joe McHugh, who is Government chief whip but also looks after the Gaeltacht. 

However, Government sources do not think the position for Mr Canney, who is a qualified chartered quantity surveyor, would be an actual ministerial post. 

Alliance still awaits Canney decision

It is thought the deal would allow Mr Canney leave the Alliance but retain his role as deputy Government whip which also comes with an €15,000 annual allowance.

Mr Canney could not be contacted yesterday or this week despite numerous attempts.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Moran said it would be best if the row was put to bed: “Myself and Sean spoke during the week about flooding and other issues. 

"I hope this comes to a conclusion fast. It is not what I went into Government for. It would be better for it to come to a conclusion quick.”

Fellow Alliance member, junior minister John Halligan, said he does not know whether or not the group would lose Mr Canney.

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ radio, he said: “I’m not going to bullshit you, I don’t know.”

He said there are no terms agreed for Mr Canney and Mr Moran when sharing the junior ministry. 

He said the Alliance is happy to have Mr Moran as minister: “The decision we have made is Boxer remains as minister, he’s a good minister, we don’t want him to move. He’s doing the job and he’s doing it quite well as it is.”

Alliance sources said last night they expected Mr Canney was unlikely to make a statement or decision on the row until early next week.

One Government source also said that the bottom line coming from Mr Varadkar’s people is he is disgruntled “because he has no job”.

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