Deeply frustrated Independent TDs will decide this morning whether to vote against Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin’s bids to become taoiseach rather than abstain as previously expected.
Such is the anger after weeks of talks over Fine Gael’s “cut-and-paste” proposal document and claims Fianna Fáil has yet to ask them formally for support, Independents last night said they may vote against the would-be leaders to make their annoyance known.
The potential move would not impact on the overall result of today’s Dáil taoiseach nomination vote as it will not reduce the tally for either Mr Kenny or Mr Martin — who will finally meet this evening to begin a key stage of government formation talks, as Fine Gael acting Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said last night that his party is willing to look at “the affordability” of water bills in any discussions.
However, the fact it is even being considered underlines Independents’ frustration over the larger parties’ actions since the election.
The issue will be raised during a 10am meeting between the five-strong rural TDs group and the Healy-Raes this morning.
Further conversations on the issue are likely during a last-minute Fine Gael round-table talk with the Independent Alliance, five-strong rural TDs group, the Healy Rae brothers, Katherine Zappone, and Maureen O’Sullivan at 11am, and at a similar meeting between Fianna Fáil and the Independent Alliance this afternoon, before the taoiseach nomination vote begins at 2.30pm.
The frustration from a number of Independent TDs was made clear after Fine Gael last night gave Independents a 122-page “foundation document” outlining what is on offer if they back Mr Kenny to regain power.
One Independent described the file as a “cut-and-paste job” of Fine Gael’s already known manifesto that has no costings, while Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said “it is very poor and extremely vague”.
Fine Gael’s weekly parliamentary party meeting last night heard similar frustration from backbenchers who were unable to put their own stamp on the document.
The level of cynicism among Independents over the negotiations was further underlined at an impromptu meeting between the rural TDs and the Healy-Raes last night, which heard Danny Healy-Rae claim Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been involved in backroom talks for 12 days — a view the parties reject.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved