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Rule breakers

The launch of a 'radical but responsible' political alliance didn't quite go to plan

Things got a bit awkward for Shane Ross and co on the Leinster House plinth this morning.

THE INDEPENDENT ALLIANCE today unveiled a number of candidates that will be running under its banner at the next general election – although it didn’t quite go to plan.

The political movement – whose members insist it’s not a party – unveiled seven candidates from across the country who will be running in the next general election, including a number of independent councillors.

Shane Ross, who is tipped to lead the alliance, also introduced Senator Feargal Quinn as its latest recruit. The veteran businessman will not stand for the Dáil at the next election and intends to retire from the Seanad but he will be the chairperson of the group.

“I am very impressed with what this group said they intend to do. They don’t intend to have a party whip except for confidence votes in the government,” Quinn told the media on the Leinster House plinth today.

He also joked that in introducing him, Ross forgot to mention his keen interest in golf and…

The press conference didn’t go entirely to plan, however.

It transpired that candidates who spoke to the media were in breach of a long-standing Leinster House rule that non-members of the Oireachtas are not allowed to be interviewed by the media in the complex.

When an usher intervened, the press conference had to be concluded by the TDs and Senators before the media were brought outside to interview the candidates.

Ross, who has been in the Oireachtas since 1981, claimed he wasn’t aware of the rule.

He later said it was “absurd” to suggest that not being aware of the rules was indicative of the alliance’s disorganisation.

Later he told the media that more about the Independent Alliance and its policies will be revealed in the autumn along with a number of other candidates. Ross said that at least 20 candidates will run under the alliance’s banner at the next election.

I am not going to be in any rush to produce the final launch that we will have… but we want to get the package right, we want to get the principles built on.

He was referring to the 10 broad principles the alliance outlined in March and which include looking after rural Ireland and women. Ross said there would be no whip on members except on confidence motions and said the aim was to hold the balance of power after the next election.

Ross said there would be no binding manifesto but that there would be a set of bills published in line with the alliance’s priorities. He added:

We’re not a traditional political party. People have got to get this into their heads. We’re radical but we’re responsible and we’re not going to bind people to policies which they don’t agree with.

As well as Ross and Quinn, independent TDs Finian McGrath, Michael Fitzmaurice, Tom Fleming and John Halligan are also part of the group along with Senator Gerard Craughwell, who said he will not run for the Dáil but hopes to be re-elected to the Seanad.

Among those who will be running for the Dáil as Independent Alliance candidates are Sunday Independent writer Carol Hunt who is standing in Dún Laoghaire.

Rathfarnham-based councillor Deirdre O’Donovan will stand in Dublin South-West.

Drogheda-based councillor Kevin Callan will run in Louth.

Councillor Lorna Nolan will stand for the Independent Alliance in Dublin West:

Councillor Niamh Kennedy will stand in Donegal.

Read: Shane Ross won’t be specific but wants to ‘look after women’…

Explained: Why the new nickname for Shane Ross is ‘Fidel’

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