Tánaiste Joan Burton has caved to pressure from her own ministers and ruled out a post-election deal with independent TD Michael Lowry, four days after the controversy erupted.
However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, through his spokesman, again failed to rule out such a deal despite a host of Fine Gael TDs voicing their opposition to such a pact.
Yesterday, four Cabinet ministers — Ms Burton, her deputy leader Alan Kelly, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, and Health Minister Leo Varadkar — all belatedly moved to rule out a Lowry deal.
After Mr Kelly broke ranks with his leader, Ms Burton’s spokesman told a briefing of political correspondents that “the Tánaiste does not think it is appropriate that the individual concerned be part of any government”.
Mr Kenny’s spokesman said the Taoiseach does not envisage any deal with independents, but failed to explicitly rule out Mr Lowry from a post-election deal.
Mr Howlin echoed Mr Kelly’s stance, saying the Labour Party would not rely on Mr Lowry’s support to form a government.
Mr Varadkar said Mr Lowry still has “issues with the law”, and said he would not like to see any such deal take place.
For his part, Mr Lowry yesterday hit out repeatedly at Mr Kelly, accusing his constituency rival of being “arrogant” by seeking to rule him out of the next government.
The Tipperary TD said “threats and innuendo” from Mr Kelly will not determine the outcome of the election.
He said Mr Kelly’s decision to “categorically” rule him out of the next government “smacks of his customary arrogance”.
Mr Lowry said he has re-fused to have discussions with anyone before the election, as doing so would be presumptuous and arrogant.
“This government have so many broken promises they should ask themselves why has that majority evaporated and why are they not certain of having a majority,” Mr Lowry said.
He said only the people will decide who is elected. “It’s not the media, it’s not the political pundits. It’s not threats and innuendo from Alan Kelly that will make the decision, it’s the people who will make the decision known.”
In response, Mr Kelly advised journalists to check Mr Lowry’s speaking time and Dáil attendance as he claimed he “rarely sees him” in either Leinster House or representing people on the ground in his constituency.
The TDs, who represent the Tipperary constituency, went on the attack after Mr Kelly made it clear that the Labour Party would not be willing to do a deal with Mr Lowry after the general election.
Mr Kelly said: “I don’t pay much attention to Mr Lowry, I rarely see him in the constituency and I rarely ever see him in the Dáil as well so I don’t pay much attention to him.”
Mr Lowry also criticised comments from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. That party has also ruled out doing business again with Mr Lowry.
Mr Martin said the findings of the Moriarty Tribunal relating to Mr Lowry are “something that all political parties cannot fudge”.
“You can’t dodge those. They are very real and significant conclusions by the judge,” said Mr Martin.
“The bottom line is that we would not be doing business.”
Mr Lowry said: “I am surprised at Micheál’s comments, as the tribunal was sitting week after week and he was more than happy of my support then. In fact, they damn right needed it.”
Fine Gael and Labour ministers have been dogged by questions about Mr Lowry this week. Mr Kenny and Ms Burton have both attempted to dodge the question in the past few days, but Mr Kelly took a different stance.
Mr Kelly said: “Just to be categorical on it, the Labour Party would never work with or ask for the support of anyone like Michael Lowry.”
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