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New TD group would be as different from Reform Alliance 'as night and day'

Three independents have been approaching a number of TDs with the aim of forming a group to push common policies.

Thomas Pringle TD, Patrick Nulty TD, John Halligan TD and Tommy Broughan TD are four of the TDs who could be part of this new group.
Thomas Pringle TD, Patrick Nulty TD, John Halligan TD and Tommy Broughan TD are four of the TDs who could be part of this new group.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THREE INDEPENDENT TDS have approached a number of others with the hope of forming a group that would work together to push forward common policies.

A document, which has been circulated to TDs and senators by John Halligan, Catherine Murphy and Thomas Pringle, proposes collaboration between like-minded politicians on areas like education and the economy.

However Pringle stressed today that this would not mean the formation of a new political party.

“What we hope to achieve is to show people that there is an alternative to the political party system,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“People would be voting out of a sense of principle and a sense of belief rather than because they’re at risk of being thrown out of an organisation if they don’t vote that way.”

Speaking about the Reform Alliance, which is another non-party grouping on independents, Pringle said “I would see a difference of night and day between us”.

They’re a bunch of  Fine Gael TDs who voted  for the most extreme budget that has been brought before people in the last couple of years. I would say that we are all individuals that have been putting forward progressive ideas in relation to reform, the economy and education and we can come together in a more cohesive way.

David and Goliath

TDs who have been approached by the three independents include Stephen Donnelly, Roisin Shortall, Tommy Broughan, Maureen O’Sullivan, Patrick Nulty, Finian McGrath and Shane Ross. A small number of senators have also been given the document.

Wicklow and East Carlow TD Stephen Donnelly, who is already part of the Dáil technical group, said today he had not read the document yet but he has spoken to the TDs involved about what they are trying to achieve.

“I can’t comment on the specifics of it but what I can say is that I do think there is value to a bunch of independents getting together to provide centralised support for independent candidates,” he said.

I know as an independent TD that it can be real David and Goliath stuff when you’re taking on the parties, they’ve so much money and so many resources we don’t have.

Becoming relevant

Finian McGrath, independent TD for Dublin North-Central, said he was open to the broad idea of the proposal.

“My one thing would be that I’m staying an independent and not getting involved in any party or anything like that,” he told TheJournal.ie.

He said he would consider the views of any groups “interested in the rights of people”.

Like Pringle, McGrath was quick to slam the Reform Alliance, dubbing them “a conservative group of TDs basically in a row with Fine Gael over abortion”.

He added that this is an idea that could help independents “become relevant” in the next election if they could have an agreed programme on some of the basic policy areas.

Read: 9 things we learned from the Reform Alliance’s ‘monster meeting’>

Read: Can expelled TDs join the Dáil Technical Group? Here’s why it’s ‘as clear as mud’>

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