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Which Independents are open to talking to Enda Kenny?

As talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are tipped to be coming to an end – the spotlight turns to the independents.

PastedImage-91244 Source: PA Wire

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY said in the Dáil yesterday that his party still needs to get six independent TDs on board in order to form a government.

As Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil talks appear to be nearing an end, the spotlight is moving back on the lone players who will be standing by the phone this weekend.

The party already has the support of two non-Fine Gael TDs – Michael Lowry and Katherine Zappone – bringing their numbers to 52.

So, who is open to talking in order to bring that up to the magic number of 58?

Ross’s Alliance

The Independent Alliance – made up of Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, John Halligan, Michael Fitzmaurice, Seán Canney and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran – has long said it will wait to see what comes out of the formation talks before they sign up to anything.

Many TDs have wish-lists for Fine Gael with many hoping to get at least some of their requests in exchange for supporting Enda Kenny.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Finian McGrath said if his grouping is to offer its support, he would like to see a number of independents getting ministerial seats.

“I would say at least a third,” said McGrath, explaining five seats at the Cabinet table would be the “minimum”.

However, he added that he was not talking just “bums on seats” but wanted to ensure policies were implemented.

Waterford Crystal resumes production John Halligan back in his days as Lord Mayor of Waterford in 2010 Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

John Halligan has gone on the record as saying if the 24-hour cardiac care unit is not restored at Waterford General Hospital, his support is off the table.

Fellow Independent Alliance TD Michael Fitzmaurice told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that he was not going to be “bullied into something… sign up to this and away we go”.

While it can’t be said definitively what TDs are tipped for top jobs, there is speculation McGrath and Fitzmaurice are in line for ministerial positions.

The Famous Five

While Independent Alliance TDs have not pinned their colours to the mast just yet, there are others in the mix: the so-called Rural FiveMattie McGrath (Tipperary), Denis Naughten (Roscommon-East Galway), Michael Collins (Cork South-West), Noel Grealish (Galway West) and Michael Harty (Clare).

Collins said non-party deputies would be taking time to look at what is on the table, and that he expected the decision-making process to take two to three days.

Naughton is believed to be in talks with Fine Gael and is tipped for a possible position in Cabinet.

The Brothers Rae

Cabinet meeting Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Michael Healy-Rae is yet another TD who might just get a ministerial position – possibly a new post in rural affairs. The Kerry TD said he would also be waiting until talks between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael end before making a decision on supporting Enda Kenny.

There are doubts on the likelihood of government support from Michael’s brother, Danny Healy-Rae.

Maureen O’Sullivan is among a separate cohort of deputies which are understood to be open to discussions once a deal is reached between the parties. However, she has also said people going into coalitions of sorts have to “be careful”.

The positions of other independents, such as Noel Grealish and Catherine Connolly, are not so clear. Thomas Pringle has recently spoken out about his concerns over the delay in rolling out broadband in rural areas, which could be a sticking point for him.

The Outsiders

Mick Wallace court case Source: Niall Carson

Independents 4 Change, founded by Wexford TD Mick Wallace, currently has four sitting TDs – Wallace, Tommy Broughan, Joan Collins and Clare Daly. None have entered talks with Fine Gael and would be unlikely to do so.

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