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Government rules out Fine Gael rebels’ bid to form second Dáil technical group

The government chief whip has told TheJournal.ie that the coalition has no plans to amend Dáil standing orders as some Fine Gael TDs and senators outside of the Fine Gael parliamentary party are seeking to do.

Terence Flanagan and Brian Walsh outside Leinster House earlier this year
Terence Flanagan and Brian Walsh outside Leinster House earlier this year
Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated 10.40am

THE GOVERNMENT HAS ruled out an attempt by rebel Fine Gael TDs and senators to form a second Dáil technical group.

The group of six TDs and two senators are attempting to form the new grouping in a bid to gain speaking rights in the Dáil as they are currently not entitled to any during Leaders’ Questions and debates on legislation.

Some of the six TDs – Lucinda Creighton, Billy Timmins, Brian Walsh, Terence Flanagan, Peter Mathews, Denis Naughten – and the two senators – Paul Bradford and Fidelma Healy-Eames – are due to meet in Leinster House today to discuss attempts to gain speaking rights and other matters.

However the government chief whip Paul Kehoe has told TheJournal.ie this morning that the coalition has “no plans” to amend standing orders in order to allow for the formation of a second technical group in addition to the current one made up of smaller parties and independents.

Wicklow TD Billy Timmins said this morning that his understanding was that it was not within the remit of government to decide if standing orders are changed.

“It’s actually the Dáil itself that does that. Maybe this is one of the problems we have with the institution that it’s becoming more and more centralised, governments are making decisions without regard to the views of members,” he said.

Earlier, Naughten said that the meeting today was aimed primarily at securing speaking rights through a motion that is being put down by Timmins.

“We’re basically going to be talking about what mechanisms we can put in place to garner speaking rights in the house,” the Roscommon-South Leitrim TD said.

No new party

He acknowledged that this would be difficult given the current rules but said rebels TDs and senators would also be examining “how we can maximise the current rules [to create] the capacity to raise issues”.

He continued: “It is a challenge and it does make things far more difficult, there are other mechanisms that are available to us as well and we’ll explore them as well.”

He said he hoped that the government, having committed to political reform, would be able to facilitate his and fellow rebels’ request but Kehoe appears to have ruled this out for now.

Naughten lost the Fine Gael whip two years ago over a vote on the future of services at Roscommon Hospital.

Creighton, Timmins, Walsh, Flanagan and Mathews lost the whip over their vote against the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill as did senators Healy-Eames and Bradford earlier in the summer.

Naughten added that the prospect of forming a political party at this time is remote saying: “I don’t see it as a realistic option at the moment.” Timmins added is “certainly not on my agenda”.

First published 9.45am

More: No sign of Fine Gael rebels and Labour TDs teaming up for speaking rights

Read: TDs speak of ‘need for an alternative’ amid moves to create new Dáil group

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Hugh O'Connell

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