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Michael McNamara, (Ind) is lifted on shoulders on his election at the Clare General Election 2020 count in The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon. Photograph by John Kelly.

McNamara among trio of Independents in FF-FG talks

CLARE’s Independent TD has described his talks on supporting a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition as “constructive”, but said he believes the parties’ preferred option is to have the Greens on-board, reducing the requirement for non-party deputies.

Deputy Michael McNamara met a negotiating team for two hours last Monday, alongside fellow Independents Marian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim) and Michael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway), and said that while the encounter was worthwhile, it didn’t constitute “meaningful negotiations”. “The talks were constructive, but I wouldn’t say there was any great level of engagement on either said,” he said. “The very clear preference is to get the Greens on board, alongside a few Independents bolted on for added stability.”

The three rural Independents presented a joint document and reviewed the framework document drawn up by the parties. Deputy McNamara stressed, however, that that he would be working independently for this constituency. “Everything I do is based on what’s best for Clare, even though we met as a team,” he said. “We underlined the need for balanced regional development and we understand now that there won’t be money to throw at things, but rural Ireland must have a fair share. I would expect that borrowing would secure capital projects such as the new bridges and bypass of Ennistymon and Killaloe, but would like more clarity of how day-to-day spending is to be balanced.”

Deputy McNamara described the FF-FG framework as lacking in detail, particularly with regard to agriculture. “I would expect far more detail and I voiced the view that we must have greater security and transparency in the food chain,” he said. “If we have learned anything from Covid-19 is that we must have food security and we won’t get that unless farmers here are paid a fair price. We also need clarity on who is profiting in the chain of production.”

The Scariff-based deputy also said that aviation policy was another of his priorities: “Nobody needs reminding about how precarious Shannon Airport is in the Covid-19 crisis and I will be keeping that to the forefront at all times.”

Predicting a drawn-out process on government formation, Deputy McNamara said he and fellow Independent would meet negotiators again: “It will rumble for some time until the Greens, Social Democrats and Labour indicate what they propose to do. I get the impression from Fine Gael in particular that they want another party on board, so we’ll know more in that case.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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