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Explainer: Why has a massive row blown up between two Independent Alliance TDs?

The crux of the issue is there is just one Minister of State role up for grabs but two government TDs want it.

Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran (right) and Seán Canney
Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran (right) and Seán Canney
Image: Leah Farrell

KEVIN ‘BOXER’ MORAN and Seán Canney. These are the two Independent Alliance TDs that are at present in an almighty row over who gets to be minister.

Today, Independent Alliance members gave Canney until the weekend to clarify his position within the group.

Why? What’s going on?

Cast your mind back to the 70-day government formation talks.

In order for the Independent Alliance to go into government with Fine Gael, they had a wish-list of items they wanted before they signed on the dotted line.

This included that they would get a certain number of jobs. A deal was done over the role of the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, whereby it was decided the role would alternate between two members of the IA.

It’s understood the Canney and Boxer Moran flipped a coin to decide who would take up the first stint.

Canney was appointed to the role for the first year of the minority government and then Boxer Moran took over a year later.

The handover was done in a very cordial manner, with Boxer Moran telling TheJournal.ie last year that in another unorthodox move, the official handover was done at an event in Moran’s local pub in Athlone.

“Seán is coming out to do the official handover, so that will be a bit of craic. I am very grateful for that,” Moran said in the interview at the time.

So, both got a turn in the job. That seems fair, right? Well, the problem arises now that the government is entering its third year in government this summer.

Many commentators did not believe it would last this long.

Come June, both men will have had the job for a year each.

Who gets to be Minister of State for the third year?

That’s the crux of the issue. As it turns out, apparently there is confusion over what was agreed in 2016 when the government was formed.

Canney understood that the role would rotate again for the third year. However, last week, following a meeting of the Independent Alliance it was confirmed that Boxer Moran will stay in the role for the remainder of the term of this government.

Awkward. So, what’s the latest?

Things escalated earlier this week when members of the Independent Alliance said they would meet to sort it out.

Today, it has emerged that contact has been made with Canney. The group want to know what Canney plans to do – will he remain in the Independent Alliance if he doesn’t get his way or will he walk away?

The group has called on him to clarify his position, with Waterford TD John Halligan working as a sort of intermediary between Canney and the rest of the group.

It is understood that Canney has been given until this weekend to make his position known, and it’s believed he is going to consult with his local electorate about what his next move should be.

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