A new technical grouping of nine TDs has been formed in Dail Eireann which could play a crucial role in the coming negotiations regarding the formation of a new Government.
The new group comprises Cathal Berry, Sean Canney, Peter Fitzpatrick, Noel Grealish, Verona Murphy, Matt Shanahan, Michael Lowry, Peadar Toibin, and Denis Naughten, fresh from his defeat in the Ceann Comhairle ballot, as convener.
The new grouping, which passes the threshold to attain speaking rights of five by a distance, had been expected, though its makeup counts as something of a surprise.
Sligo-Leitrim independent Marian Harkin, for example, is excluded after conducting high profile discussions of her own with the expectation that a group of her own would be formed.
The numbers also exceed the maximum of seven that Aontu’s Peadar Toibin had forecast would be the final amount of the grouping he had been working on forming.
Taking into account the existing rural independent group of six, six further independents remain unmoored to any particular grouping (given neither Peadar Toibin nor Joan Collins are independents in the strictest sense of the word).
Given the precarious state of seat numbers in the Dail, the new group could be set to play a crucial role in the coming weeks.
The voting intentions of the nine deputies do not at this juncture appear to be in any way guaranteed, with Sean Canney, once of the Independent Alliance, casting a vote for both Micheal Martin and Leo Varadkar for Taoiseach for example.
“It’s a technical grouping in the truest sense, given that people with different political opinions are coming together to avail of the facilities in the Dail such as leaders’ and ministers’ questions, and being able to represent properly on committees,” Mr Toibin said.
He said that the group negotiating en masse for a programme for Government is unlikely, however.
“There may be individuals or subsets who negotiate, but the actual group as it exists is independent in nature,” Mr Toibin said.