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Hugh O'Connell/Daragh Brophy

Tough crowd: New TDs get 10 minutes of glory before Noonan unveils 'Turning Point' Budget

Ming-backed Independent Michael Fitzmaurice and Socialist Paul Murphy have taken their seats in Leinster House.

IT WAS ALWAYS going to be a tough slot.

Not that either of the two men tasked with filling it seemed particularly bothered.

This afternoon’s Budget announcement has been flagged in recent days as a ‘turning point’ by Michael Noonan and other senior ministers.

But there was still business to be taken care of before the the Minister, and his partner-in-finance Brendan Howlin could begin their long-anticipated speeches.

Ten minutes of Dáil business was given over before this afternoon’s 2.30pm kick off to welcome Socialist Paul Murphy and Ming-backed Independent Michael Fitzmaurice to the Dáil.

Both men scored surprise victories in the weekend by-elections — Murphy outperforming the Sinn Féin candidate to take a seat in Dublin South West, and Fitzmaurice, a Co Galway based turf-cutter and councillor, taking a seat in Roscommon-South Leitrim at the expense of the Fianna Fáil favourite…

There was a round of applause from a packed chamber as Fitzmaurice, first, was officially announced, and led in to take his seat.

After a few handshakes with senior members of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, he took his seat alongside the rest of the independents, with the likes of Richard Boyd Barrett and Maureen O’Sullivan giving him a warm welcome…

After that, it was Murphy’s turn…

No time for speeches though.

There’ll be time for that later, the Ceann Comhairle said — and it was on with the Budget.

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