Independent Alliance member Michael Fitzmaurice eyes new rural-focused group

Independent Alliance member Michael Fitzmaurice has said he is considering setting up a new political group.

The Roscommon-Galway TD opted to abstain from Friday’s vote for taoiseach over the issue of turfcutting.

Mr Fitzmaurice said he is now considering all options, including starting a new group to focus on rural issues after being contacted by up to 20 individuals in recent days.

“I had a lot of approaches over the weekend from people — some of whom did very well in the election — asking me would I spearhead something new,” he said.

Mr Fitzmaurice took negotiations on government formation down to the wire ahead of last week’s vote for taoiseach, but was unable to reach agreement with Fine Gael on the issue of bogs and access for turfcutters.

He and fellow Independent Alliance member Sean Canney were due to continue talks on this subject with Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

However, talks did not resume yesterday as Mr Noonan was out of the country on EU business.

Mr Fitzmaurice hinted that he would not be going back into talks unless a solution can be found.

“It’s in their hands,” he said, adding that Mr Noonan had said the issue could take two or three months to resolve.

“I have to see where I am on speaking time, and whether I will stay with the Independent Alliance or I might do something else,” said Mr Fitzmaurice.

“I had a lot of contact over the weekend from people asking me to spearhead something new. I had around 20 phonecalls from people asking me to start something new for rural Ireland. So I will assess that.

“I am not going jumping into something or jumping out of something.”


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