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Dublin: 11°C Sunday 18 April 2021

Are we about to see an exodus of TDs from Fine Gael?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

The resignation of Sean Conlan from Fine Gael.

28/10/2015 Online Tax Calculator for Budget 2016. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Over the past five years, Fine Gael has been more bulletproof than its coalition partner when it comes to defections.

Labour faced a string of resignations through 2011 and 2012 over a range of issues, most recently losing Éamonn Maloney who will run as an independent in Dublin South-West.

Fine Gael lost Denis Naughten in 2011 over the closure of the emergency department at Roscommon County Hospital, and lost five more TDs who voted against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

But is Sean Conlan’s departure the beginning of an exodus ahead of the general election?

037Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan 90359777 Source: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

By resigning off the back of the party’s stance on the construction of pylons under the North-South Interconnector project, Conlan now has essentially positioned himself as a single-issue independent politician.

There is considerable opposition in his Cavan-Monaghan constituency to the project, with hundreds attending an Anti-Pylon Movement meeting the night before he stepped down.

He is now well placed for a good showing in the election.

Fine Gael has been enjoying good results in recent polls, so it may be the case that many other TDs will be confident to hang on with the party, unless certain pressures begin to emerge on the doorsteps.

Another element for Conlan is that he was told in recent days that he would not be ratified as a Fine Gael candidate for the general election if charged in relation to an alleged assault at his family pub.

This morning he said the party’s “attack dogs are out, trying to spin the reasons for my resignation into a negative context”.

The agenda

  • The IFA pay controversy is sure to feature in questions for the Agriculture Minister at 9.30am.
  • Leaders’ Questions will kick off at midday, followed by Order of Business.
  • At 12.51pm statements on Northern Ireland will be heard.
  • Discussion of Fianna Fáil’s Private Members Bill on credit unions continues at 8.30pm.
  • The Seanad’s Order of Business is at 11.30am, with social welfare and climate change bills discussed during the day.
  • The Justice Committee will pore over the annual report of the Courts Service at 9.30am.
  • The reported low rate of convictions for drink-driving offences will be looked at by the Transport Committee, also from 9.30am.
  • Brexit is on the menu for the European Affairs committee at 10.30am.

Inside Leinster House

Cabin fever is setting in among TDs and senators trying to salvage the banking inquiry.

What the others are saying

  • Minister James Reilly’s call for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment has sparked tensions in Fine Gael, the Irish Independent reports.
  • The Irish Times reports that Fianna Fáil TDs are being urged to toe the party line, ruling out coalition and pushing the view that the party is ready for government.
  • The Anti-Austerity Alliance is calling for a review of plans to build modular housing in Dublin, as the Irish Daily Mail reports it will cost €11,000 more for each unit than it costs to build a house under the social housing scheme.
  • Peter McVerry believes keeping USC could solve the homeless crisis in five years, the Irish Examiner reports.

In case you missed it

Good day for…

Anyone opposed to the construction of pylons. The issue is back in the headlines after a lull.

Bad day for…

Enda Kenny, who’s likely to be hoping that there will be no more defections from the party ahead of the general election.

On the Twitter machine…

Yesterday it was Minister Jan O’Sullivan, today President Michael D Higgins.

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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