Independent Alliance eyes Stephen Donnelly

The Independent Alliance is wooing Independent TD Stephen Donnelly and hopes to cut a deal with the Wicklow man so he will join the group in the new year.

Independent Alliance eyes Stephen Donnelly

Crunch talks will also take place today between the alliance and Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to review the Programme for Government and the recent turbulent few months for the coalition.

Mr Donnelly has confirmed he informally discussed joining the alliance with junior jobs minister John Halligan this month. Alliance sources say they are eager to recruit the TD.

Mr Donnelly told the Irish Examiner Mr Halligan asked him to “sit down and have a chat” with the alliance about joining. He played down the significance of the discussion, but said he was considering his political future.

“John [Halligan] brought it up. Now I do have to think about the future. I’m not ruling anything in or out. I’m going to have a think about things over the holidays.”

The recruitment of Mr Donnelly would be seen as a big win for the five-member alliance. His economic expertise has impressed government figures, including Finance Minister Michael Noonan who acted on his concerns about companies avoiding tax in the budget.

The Wicklow TD left the Social Democrats in bitter circumstances in September, a year after he helped set up the party with Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy.

Mr Donnelly’s recruitment would bring to six the group’s number of TDs and it would give the coalition an extra vote in the Dáil.

Mr Donnelly said he would need to consult with supporters before making a decision: “It’s not just about joining the alliance, you’re also entering into government. It would be a big call.”

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Shane Ross and the alliance will meet Enda Kenny today to assess their relationship and the future.

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