Independents hit out at ‘threats’ from Fine Gael amid talks

Senior Fine Gael negotiators have warned Independents of a summer of political strife and a possible second election if a government is not formed.

Independent TDs in negotiations with both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael reacted angrily to the comments and said they would not be threatened by “childish play-acting”.

Acting Health Minister Leo Varadkar prompted fury after he tweeted a picture of his election posters on Sunday night with the caption: “My posters cleaned, counted, stored and ready to be deployed.”

Last week, Mr Varadkar was criticised by a number of Independent TDs, including Michael Healy-Rae for appearing “disengaged” in the round-table discussions on government formation.

Yesterday, acting Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe also agreed that an election is still possible given the current political situation.

Acting Junior Finance Minister Simon Harris tweeted that listening to the morning news would “dispel the myth” that the government formation impasse can go on and on. He added that serious issues are “piling up” and hoped that this would “focus” all involved.

The Independent Alliance met with Fine Gael yesterday morning to discuss finance and transport.

But the talks started off on a tense note as members of the Independent Alliance hit out at the comments posted on twitter.

Shane Ross of the Independent Alliance said: “We won’t negotiate under threat and we won’t take that threat seriously.”

Shane Ross of the Independent Alliance
Shane Ross of the Independent Alliance

While Michael Fitzmaurice said there is no public appetite for another election.

“He might get a fierce shock if he went out to the people,” the Roscommon Galway TD said of Mr Varadkar’s comments.

Mattie McGrath who is one of the five rural Independent TDs said Mr Varadkar’s post “begs the question, what are we really about with respect to this process?”

Mr McGrath said: “Putting the idea out there that you are ready and prepared for another general election, and in some sense even welcoming that idea, is in my view a political misjudgement that can only damage the entire process.

“It also removes any sense that there is any authentic credible engagement by the acting minister and it should be immediately withdrawn unless he wants to maintain the impression he is overtly trying to force us into another election scenario,” Mr McGrath said.

Mattie McGrath
Mattie McGrath

Fine Gael met with the six members of the Independent Alliance yesterday morning with Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe hosting a discussion on the rural road network and other transport issues with Michael Fitzmaurice, Sean Canney and Kevin ‘boxer’ Moran.

While a parallel discussion with other members of the Independent Alliance centred on political reform.

A Fine Gael round-table briefing was due to be held with the Department of Finance on Nama last night. However, the five rural Independent TDs and the two Healy-Rae brothers were still in negotiations last night when the briefing began.

Fine Gael’s negotiating team is today due to present all 15 Independents with a re-worked paper on the issues discussed last week.

Housing and rural affairs, which were the source of protracted deliberations last week, will be among the policies included in the worked up document.


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