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Lucinda Creighton says she's joined the Dáil Technical Group - but they don't want her

Much confusion as to whether the former Fine Gael TD is now part of the loose alliance of independent deputies.

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Updated 4.50pm 

LUCINDA CREIGHTON HAS said she is now a member of the Dáil Technical Group despite the loose grouping of independent and smaller party TDs saying they would oppose her application to join them.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this afternoon, Creighton said it is her understanding that she is now officially a member of the grouping, saying: “Technically, I am in the Tehnical Group.”

The putative Reform Alliance leader said she had written to the Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett to notify him that she had joined the group as is required under Dáil standing orders.

Neither the Ceann Comhairle nor the Technical Group itself has a role in who can and cannot join the group. However, it had been thought that those previously affiliated to political parties in the current Dáil term – as Creighton was with Fine Gael – could not join.

But Creighton said she had been in “constant contact” with Barrett’s office for the last two days and is now of the understanding that any independent TD can now join the Technical Group.

“He is interpreting the relevant standing order in such a way that any independent member in the Dáil can join Technical Group,” she claimed.

What is the Technical Group?

The Technical Group came together after the 2011 general election for the purposes of speaking time in the Dáil and Oireachtas committee memberships. It currently has 16 members including the high-profile deputies Shane Ross and Stephen Donnelly.

The Reform Alliance, formed by Fine Gael TDs and Senators who were expelled after voting against the abortion bill last year, has been accommodated with limited Dáil speaking time but has been unable to form a second Technical Group.

Earlier, Barrett said in a statement that he had not discussed membership of the group with any TD nor is it his role to do so.

The Technical Group whip, independent TD Catherine Murphy, said she had not been informed of Creighton’s application and queried the practicalities of the former minister joining the group.

Creighton said she told Murphy before submitting her application and said she had the support of some Technical Group TDs who are happy to support her membership.

The Technical Group has written a strongly-worded letter to the Ceann Comhairle outlining its opposition to the application and questioned what function Barrett has in determining the membership of the group. It has threatened to take legal advice on challenging Barrett if he allows Creighton and others to join the grouping.

Barrett insisted in a statement this afternoon that he has no responsibility over membership.

A statement from the Houses of the Oireachtas said: “The Ceann Comhairle wishes to make it perfectly clear that he has had no discussions with any Member with regard to Membership of the Technical Group – nor is it his role to do so.”

What about the other RA TDs?

Of the four other Reform Alliance TDs, Denis Naughten said he has “no plans” to join the Technical Group while Billy Timmins said he is “giving serious consideration to it”.

Terence Flanagan and Peter Mathews could not immediately be reached for comment, but Creighton said they intended to submit applications.

Earlier, Catherine Murphy told TheJournal.ie this morning that neither she nor her colleagues had been informed of the decision to allow Reform Alliance TDs to join the grouping.

“We learned about this from the paper. The Ceann Comhairle didn’t have the courtesy to formally inform the Whip of the Group or, it appears, anyone else,” she said. “This decision has been imposed rather than agreed. It has bypassed the Dáil reform Committee.”

She said that the addition of more TDs to the group would make it administratively impossible as the Technical Group does not have any of the resources that political parties have in Leinster House.

Creighton said she was happy to support her “my colleagues in the Technical Group” in obtaining further resources.

“I am not looking for resources. I simply want to be able to speak when I want, join committees, put down private members’ business. Joining the Technical Group will enable myself and any former member of any political party to do that,” she said.

Murphy also raised issues around the payment of allowances to TDs who have quit political parties and then joined the Technical Group, saying the Ceann Comhairle had entered into a “very grey legal area”.

At an emergency meeting of the group earlier it was agreed that Creighton’s application to join would be opposed with a letter sent to Ceann Comhairle this afternoon.

Read: Do the RA want back in Fine Gael?: ‘No’ … ‘I don’t know’ … ‘Google it’

Read: 16 TDs want a meeting with RTÉ because they’re being treated ‘very unfairly’

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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