A host of Fine Gael TDs have spoken out strongly against the party doing a post-election deal with Independent TD Michael Lowry in order to form a Government, saying it would do enormous damage to the party.
One TD, Kerry’s Brendan Griffin, went as far as to say he would prefer to go back to the country in a second election rather than do a deal with the controversial Tipperary TD.
Mr Lowry, who was forced to resign as a Fine Gael minister in disgrace in the 1990s, said Independents like him could hold the balance of power in the next Dáil after the General Election.
However, despite the failure of Taoiseach Enda Kenny to rule out doing such a deal with Mr Lowry, with whom he is friends, TDs from across the country were very vocal yesterday in their opposition to any deal being done.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Griffin was vehement that such a deal would do enormous damage to Fine Gael.
“Lowry would be out of the question for me. I could not do business with someone like that. Not under any circumstances should it be considered,” he said.
“Lowry would represent a massive step backwards. I’d rather go to the country again then go into government with Michael Lowry. There is no room for low standards in high office,” he added.
Cork North West TD Michael Creed said: “I have an anathema to side deals. If the TDs want to support the Government, but I do have a problem of being held hostage to the parochial interests of Holycross,” said Mr Creed. “I do have a problem if his vote comes at a cost,” he added.
Former junior minister Fergus O’Dowd too voiced concern about the need to rely on Mr Lowry to form a government.
“I think there should be no formal deal with him, not with Michael Lowry. Individual Independent TDs can vote their own way including to support a government if they wish, but we should not do a deal with him,” he told the Irish Examiner.
Carlow TD Pat Deering said he would rule out doing any sort of deal. “He has baggage we don’t need. I would be well aware of all that. Numbers will dictate if he is the mix or not,” he said.
His constituency colleague Pat Breen shared his concerns saying there are other Independents Fine Gael should look to.
Dublin North TD Alan Farrell also expressed his opposition to entering into a deal with the Tipperary TD.
“I would be quite firmly against the idea. His exit from Fine Gael was troublesome and his difficult legacy is something I want nothing to do with,” he said.
However, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney was one of four Fine Gael ministers who yesterday failed to rule out doing such a deal with Mr Lowry, but said his preference would be not to have to rely on Independents. “There’s far too much talk about Michael Lowry, quite frankly and I don’t want to add to his profile one way or the other,” he added.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe also declined an opportunity to rule out seeking Mr Lowry’s support.
However, the Labour Party made clear its unease about the potential of a deal with Mr Lowry. Tánaiste Joan Burton told reporters she would be “very concerned if there’s talk the next government would be beholden to Independents with separate agendas”.
She repeated her view that it would “certainly concern me deeply” if the next government is dependent on individual TD deals which “would put the very recovery at risk”.
Junior Minister Kevin Humphreys was explicit in his opposition. “I would not like to serve in any government that is supported by Michael Lowry. I am not in favour of any deal with Lowry,” he told the Irish Examiner.
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