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File photo of independent TD Mattie McGrath. Leah Farrell/

New group of rural independent TDs 'willing to engage with all parties' to help form government

The Rural Independent Group comprises Mattie McGrath, Michael Collins, Carol Nolan, Michael Healy-Rae and Danny Healy-Rae.

A NEW GROUP of rural independent TDs have said they are “ready and willing to enter government formation discussions with all of the main political parties”.

The Rural Independent Group comprises Mattie McGrath, Michael Collins, Carol Nolan, Michael Healy-Rae and Danny Healy-Rae.

McGrath, who was re-elected to the Dáil in the Tipperary constituency, was appointed convenor of the group at a meeting in Portlaoise yesterday.

In a statement issued this morning, McGrath said all the members of the group “recognise the clear and fundamental shift that has occurred in Irish politics over the course of the last few days”.

“The electorate, both rural and urban, are demanding change. What we are saying today is that we stand ready to play our part in advancing that change,” the statement notes.

McGrath said the group will seek to ensure that issues facing rural Ireland are taking into consideration during government-formation talks.

“Rural communities in particular feel that they were left behind by the outgoing government. They looked for leadership and support and they received neither.

“Rural Ireland was an afterthought. People in our communities saw that.

“They felt increasingly betrayed by an almost entirely Dublin-centric policy emphasis overseen by a government that appeared to have little or no natural feeling or understanding for the rural way of life,” McGrath stated.

He added that the group is “not interested in furthering any kind of rural/urban divide” but wants to see “an equal distribution of resources and infrastructure supports regardless of where you live”.

Ongoing talks 

Meanwhile Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has written to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin as the party continues talks seeking to form a government.

It comes ahead of a planned meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party later today, with TDs mulling the question of whether or not it should go into government with Sinn Féin.

Fianna Fáil came out with the most seats from Saturday’s general election, with 38, but Sinn Féin won 37 seats and also the highest proportion of first preference votes.

If Sinn Féin had run more than 42 candidates, it is likely it would have returned a far higher number of seats.

So far, the party has held talks with smaller left-leaning parties with McDonald stating her preference was for a government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael (35 seats).

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday said he expects his party to lead the opposition in the next Dáil

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