Any one of four independent Galway TDs could have an influential part in the formation of the next government – and this could result in a huge boost for the county.
The Galway independents are currently engaging with the leaders of the two main parties – Fianna Fail and Fine Gael – and they are being asked what would be required for their support.
Following the general election less than two weeks ago, there are now an unprecedented eleven TDs representing County Galway. It was something of an historic election.
There are five in Galway West and three each in Galway East and Roscommon-Galway – with such a major representation, there were be plenty of pressure on them to deliver for the county over the coming years.
But at the moment the concentration is on the independents who have 23 seats – four of these are in County Galway. Catherine Connolly and Noel Grealish were elected in Galway West, Sean Canney in Galway East while Mick Fitzmaurice from Glinsk was returned in Roscommon-Galway.
Deputy Canney and Deputy Fitzmaurice are part of the six-strong Independent Alliance who met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny last weekend and then had a meeting with FF party leader Micheal Martin on Monday.
Their grouping also includes Tuam’s Deputy Finian McGrath, Deputy Shane Ross and Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran. They have put together a ten-point plan which they submitted to the two party leaders.
The Dail is convening for the first time today (Thursday) but Deputy Canney does not believe that a Taoiseach will be elected. “Fine Gael have a lot of housekeeping to complete before that happens, in my opinion”, he told The Connacht Tribune.
It is understood that the Independent Alliance plan includes government reform, various health issues and matters relating to rural Ireland. They are putting this to all party leaders.
“I was elected to be part of this new government and I am willing to engage in discussions with a view to have an influence in how our country is run,” Deputy Canney said.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
TALLIES: Half of boxes open in City West
With half of the boxes in Galway City West tallied, the state of play in the six-seater is:
Donal Lyons (Ind) 23%
Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) 14.75%
Niall McNelis (Lab) 11.89%
John Connolly (FF) 9.86%
Pearce Flannery (FG) 9.48%
Peter Keane (FF) 7.3%
John Crowley (Soc Dems) 6.3%
Clodagh Higgins (FG) 5.9%
Salthill and Taylor’s Hill boxes being tallied now
Left and right find middle ground
There is a tired old cliché about people singing from ‘the same hymn sheet’ – but despite their diverse political backgrounds, it could certainly be applied in the case of Galway city’s two new TDs.
Because Fine Gael’s Deputy Hildegarde Naughten and independent TD Catherine Connolly hold common ground when it comes to a lot of issues relating to Galway city.
For example, in the aftermath of the general election they both agreed that University Hospital Galway should be moved to a greenfield site at Merlin Park. They also articulated this view on the first day of the new Dail last week.
And, separately, they were both in favour of the provision of dedicated bus lanes throughout Galway city with the acceptance that there will be no outer bypass for at least another decade. Deputy Connolly believes that the current proposal is simply “a cul-de-sac” and should never have been progressed.
Left-leaning Independent TD Catherine Connolly and right-leaning Fine Gael TD, Hildegarde Naughton, both believe UHG is at saturation point and are committed to the development of a new public hospital at the larger, more accessible site east of the city.
This, along with the promotion of public transport initiatives to help end traffic chaos in the city, is one of the common policy objectives the two new women TDs share.
They are only the second and third women TDs ever in Galway West, following in the footsteps of former Fianna Fáil minister, Máire Geoghegan Quinn.
Fianna Fail attempts to woo Grealish again
Pressure is mounting on Galway West TD Noel Grealish to join Fianna Fail as the party attempts to be part of the next government.
The Fianna Fail organisation in the constituency are now convinced that Grealish may provide the party with the answer to winning a second seat in Galway West. And the organisation are disappointed that veteran TD Eamon O Cuiv has not delivered a second seat in the last two general elections. If Fianna Fail assume power, it is very unlikely that the Cornamona man will have a place at the front bench.
The party organisation in Galway West are now anxious that Grealish becomes part of their fabric and particularly as he is a proven vote-winner.
Grealish is part of an unofficial grouping in the Dail who are currently engaged with the two major parties with a view to forming a minority government.
The fact that the Carnmore man has been a TD since 2002, it is likely that he could be part of the front bench in the next government if he agrees to become part of the support that Fianna Fail require.
It was revealed last week that he had been approached by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to join up but he was not to be drawn on the issue.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.