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Fine Gael TDs like the idea of a voting pact more than Labour TDs

Labour minister Alan Kelly thinks it’s a good idea but some of his party colleagues disagree.

Could Enda Kenny and Joan Burton work out their own version of the Mullingar Accord?
Could Enda Kenny and Joan Burton work out their own version of the Mullingar Accord?
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THERE IS BROAD support among a number of Fine Gael backbenchers for the idea of a voting pact with Labour at the next general election.

However Labour TDs have expressed misgivings about the idea despite Environment Minister and Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly saying recently that the two parties should “have a relationship” at the next election.

With the next general election set to take place in the spring of 2016 or possibly sooner, parties are already turning their attention to strategy. A voting pact would involve Fine Gael candidates telling voters to give their next preference to Labour candidates and vice versa.

While a number of Fine Gael TDs expressed support for the idea, Labour appeared less in favour indicating the extent to which the junior coalition party will face an uphill battle to retain many of the seats it gained in 2011.

On the Fine Gael side Dublin North deputy Alan Farrell questioned what alternative there is to a pact with Labour.

“I don’t think there is [an alternative]. So, yes, I would actually be in favour. I would say that we’d have to exert our own independence post Budget 2016.”

“So for the last number of months of government before the election we’d have to set out our own stall but I don’t think there is a credible alternative to the current coalition,” he added

‘By a country mile’

Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer and Carlow Kilkenny deputy John Paul Phelan said they were in favour of a voting pact while Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Frank Feighan said he was “very much for it”.

“By a country mile it would be my preferred choice and hopefully it will happen,” Feighan said.

By contrast Labour were less enthusiastic, Dublin North West deputy John Lyons said that Fine Gael and Labour are “fundamentally two very different parties” and said that he would “absolutely not” be in favour of a voting pact.

Lyons pointed out that Labour had already “been there” with the Mullingar Accord – an agreement between Fine Gael and Labour made in 2004 in advance of the 2007 election.

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Meath East TD Dominic Hannigan said that he would not be in favour of a voting pact.

“Personally I think the order of voting preference should be left to the electorate to decide,” he said while adding that he would adhere to any decision the party takes on the matter.

Some Fine Gael TDs were cautious about the idea. Kildare South’s Martin Heydon said that “it’s a long way way at the minute”.

“We’re our own party but come the next election I believe that us in coalition with Labour will have a very good story to tell. I wouldn’t have a difficulty in the world with having a joint platform in that regard while still maintaining the independence that we have.”

Kerry South TD Brendan Griffin said that he could not “say yes for certain at this point” but added he “would like to see a situation where I’d be supportive of such an arrangement”.

Read: An ‘administrative error’ was the reason why a Fine Gael branch in Mayo didn’t file its accounts

Read: Sinn Féin is just 1% behind Fine Gael in the latest opinion poll

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Hugh O'Connell

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