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Donegal says No

Why this TD won't be selling his soul to stop a second election

Thomas Pringle told us why he hasn’t entertained talks with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

Nicky Ryan /

THOMAS PRINGLE IS one of the few independent TDs who hasn’t engaged in the seemingly endless talks with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in recent weeks.

While the independent groupings, the Healy-Rae brothers, Katherine Zappone and Maureen O’Sullivan have held some 70 hours of talks with the two main parties, Pringle has taken a backseat.

There’s plenty of criticism of Sinn Féin, the Social Democrats and others, including Pringle, who havent engaged in talks to form a government. Some believe they have abdicated responsibility and are doing nothing to prevent a second election in the coming weeks.

But Pringle believes that it’s not worth it if he can’t get his priorities dealt with, telling today:

If there is a second election, I have to live with that and fight it again and hopefully retain my seat again. But I’m not going to sell my soul to prevent a second election.

The Donegal TD said he’s happy to talk to anybody, but his brief engagements with both parties did not give him any hope that he would get what he wanted for his constituents, including the abolition of Irish Water and water charges.

“If you enter into a negotiations you have to agree that things are up for a negotiation. I felt, after the conversation I had with Simon Coveney, that water wasn’t up for negotiation,” Pringle said of his chat with the Fine Gael minister who has led efforts to form a minority government.


Simon Coveney was adamant that water charges would have to stay and he saw that water charges was the mechanism to fund Irish Water into the future. I am very strongly opposed to water taxes and Irish Water. So on the basis of that I didn’t feel that that was something I could continue with.

He also met with Micheál Martin prior to the first sitting of the 32nd Dáil last month, but has had no further engagement with Fianna Fáil leader since then.

“I haven’t heard anything from him since so that avenue is, I presume, closed off,” he said.

But in any case, Pringle doesn’t believe Fianna Fáil is serious about getting rid of charges, as it’s only proposed suspending them for a number of years.

For the former Sinn Féin councillor, like so many others, the ‘elephant in the room’ remains: the need for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to hammer out a deal to govern.

“A lot has been said about the responsibility of independents to ensure that a minority government goes into place,” he said.

But very little has been talked about about the responsibility of the two right-wing parties – there’s absolutely very little difference between in terms of policy – and their responsibility in terms of coming together and forming a government, which is actually the only workable majority and workable government that’s in place in terms of this Dáil.

There’ll be more from Thomas Pringle on why he left Sinn Féin and the “myth” that Donegal is anti-establishment on this weekend.

Read: TDs vote to give themselves another 8 days off

Read: The government is ordering 4 million new polling cards

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