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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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Independents say Finance Bill support is "not guaranteed"

Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae put the Finance Bill in further jeopardy – saying they may not vote for it.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

EVEN IF the Finance Bill is brought through the Dáil before the end of the week, Fianna Fáil may not be assured of having the votes to pass it through the Dáil – after the two independents on whom it relies said their votes were “not guaranteed”.

Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae, who have supported the Fianna Fáil-Green Party coalition in all of its Dáil votes, say they may not vote in favour of the Bill, which forms the last significant chunk of last December’s Budget.

In a statement issued on behalf of both, Lowry said both he and Healy-Rae felt an early election was “now essential”, but that even if the main four parties in the Dáil were able to rush the Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas, their “votes on the Finance Bill are not guaranteed”.

Instead, Lowry urged the opposition parties to negotiate any amendments they wanted, which would then allow opposition parties to vote in favour of the Bill instead.

Both TDs said they would spend the evening discussing the Bill’s provisions with their local organisations, and that both would announce their position on the Bill once Lenihan and the opposition ministers finish their meeting tomorrow.

If the two are taken out the equation, and whipless Fianna Fáil backbencher Mattie McGrath voted with the party, the Dáil would likely be tied at 80 votes apiece – meaning the casting vote of the Ceann Comhairle, Seamus Kirk, would come into play.

With McGrath likely to oppose the Bill, however, the government would lose the vote – meaning the votes of Healy-Rae and Lowry could be crucial.

Independent TD Joe Behan, who ordinarily opposes the government but who voted in favour of the Budget, this evening said he would be prepared to vote in favour of the Finance Bill if it was brought through the Dáil as quickly as possible.

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Gavan Reilly

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