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No sign of Fine Gael rebels and Labour TDs teaming up for speaking rights

One member of the technical group said that he would be “disappointed” if Fine Gael rebels thought he would join them in a new political party.

Image: Oireachtas

THE FINE GAEL ‘rebels’ are continuing their quest to be granted speaking rights – but there have been no official moves made towards teaming up with the Labour TDs that are in the same situation.

As speculation rages that a new political party could even be formed, one independent TD said that he would be disappointed if Fine Gael thought he would team up with them for such a move.

One of the ‘rebels’, Fine Gael TD Billy Timmins, told TheJournal.ie that from his point of view the group were working together, and that he had not made any moves towards contacting the Labour TDs.

However, he could not rule out if others had made an attempt to contact Labour.

A Dáil Technical Group must comprise of a majority of non-aligned (ie no party affiliation) members in order to be recognised and have speaking rights in Dáil debates.


It emerged last week that moves were being made to create a new alliance of independent TDs and disaffected and former Labour TDs for the purposes of speaking rights.

Timmins said that he believed the Oireachtas would have to pass changes to standing orders to enable the TDs to speak, but there are not insignificant hurdles when it comes to this. One belief is that if the current Technical Group saw enough of its members leave to join another group, then this new group could be designated the only Technical Group with speaking rights.

It is currently not possible to have more than one Technical Group.

One possibility for the ‘rebels’ is getting speaking time from the Technical group, but this is not their preferred option, said Timmins. Due to the challenges faced by the disenfranchised TDs from both Labour and Fine Gael, there has been speculation of the formation of a new party.

Indpendent TD Thomas Pringle said that he “would be disappointed” if the Fine Gael rebels “thought I would join them in a political party”.

Technical group

Independent TD John Halligan told TheJournal.ie that the Technical Group haven’t had contact with any of the Fine Gael TDs who are looking for speaking rights.

He said that the Technical Group can “do our best to accommodate” people within the time they themselves are allocated, if they receive a request for speaking time.

Halligan said that he has a great belief in people “having the  right to speak in the Dáil”.

I have no doubt about it that those who left on a matter of principle, they may have thought they could get speaking rights and found that they weren’t able. That’s the difficulty they face. Do they go the next 2.5 years with very restricted [speaking] rights.

“It is not right that because someone has a falling out with their party they are condemned to the back benches,” said Halligan. He thinks leaving the disenfranchised members without a right to speak “isn’t democratic”.

He said that contact might be made by the rebels in September, when the Dáil resumes.

Halligan added that he did not know if it was up to the ceann comhairle to introduce change on this, but that if so he didn’t anticipate change as “he is extremely conservative”.

Halligan admitted that while he might have differences with some of the Fine Gael rebels, they have a right to speak.

He described Roisín Shortall as a “quality TD” and expressed disappointment that “she would be left in the doldrums if you like”.

Thomas Pringle

Deputy Pringle said that the Technical Group “have always been speaking against the way the standing orders have mitigated against us” and they support any change to the standing orders.

He agreed that all elected members of the Dáil should be entitled to speak, but pointed out that the Fine Gael rebels “weren’t too supportive” of the Technical Group itself in the past.

Read: TDs speak of ‘need for an alternative’ amid moves to create new Dáil group>

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