Independent ministers Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, and John Halligan are to vote against the Government today when they support Independent Maureen O’Sullivan’s bill on banning hare coursing.
The trio have confirmed that they will defy the Government whip and vote with Ms O’Sullivan, as they agree with the spirit of the bill and it is not subject to their Programme for Government commitments with Fine Gael.
Another ministerial member of the alliance, junior minister Seán Canney, told the Irish Examiner that he was undecided on the matter, and would make up his mind this morning ahead of the vote.
The decision to break ranks with Fine Gael on the bill is significant as normally such a move would force those involved to resign from office.
It is clear however, that the decision to support Ms O’Sullivan’s bill will not force such a scenario with Fine Gael content to “let the lads off on this one”.
It is seen that the decision to go against Fine Gael is a test case by the alliance in advance of more contentious votes, such as Mick Wallace’s bill on liberalising the abortion laws next week.
The alliance discussed the matter at their weekly meeting on Tuesday and Mr McGrath, Mr Ross, and Mr Halligan made their views known to their colleagues.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Halligan said he is supporting Ms O’Sullivan’s bill because he thinks it is absolutely wrong for animals to be killed for sport.
“We are a civilised country and we need to put an end to this sort of thing where animals are killed for sport or pleasure and that is why I intend supporting the bill,” he said.
“This is not a Programme for Government matter. We said we would support them on financial bills and votes of confidence. Beyond that we have a free hand. That is it.”
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