CLARE’S Independent TD has questioned the view that a coalition of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party is the only option when it comes to forming the next government.
Deputy Michael McNamara, who has been involved with talks, alongside fellow Independents Michael Fitzmaurice (Rocommon-Galway) and Marian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim) about supporting such a coalition, said it may be the case that alternatives are viable, if not preferable at this point in time.
This week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party he is confident a government can be formed by June. However, Deputy McNamara said it may still be the case that Fine Gael’s preference was for another General Election. “The prospect of another election might seen attractive to Fine Gael right now,” he told The Champion. “They will have to be seen to exhaust all possibilities for government formation, then to persuade President Higgins to dissolve the Dáil. The president has some discretion in that regard and should consider that there are other alternatives for government formation.”
The Scariff-based TD, who has had a number of exploratory discussions with Sinn Féin since the General Election in February, said he remains uncomfortable with the fact that that party had been frozen out of talks. “They are not the untouchables they are portrayed to be,” he said. “They are not the great unwashed, they have a mandate. Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne has a mandate that is the same as mine or that or Deputies Carey or Crowe.”
Deputy McNamara also expressed the view that the Green Party might find more common ground in a coalition with Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. “Some Independent TDs would also be more comfortable in that situation too. I’ve had a number of meetings with SF, not in recent times though, since they’re more or less been cut out of the process of forming a government.”
The non-party TD stressed that he and Deputies Harkin and Fitzmaurice would make a collective decision on supporting a coalition government, but retained their Independent status. “We are Independents at the end of the day and will make our decision collectively and individually and look at what is best for our electorate.” Deputy McNamara restated that his priorities in any Programme for Government would be a greater regional balance in aviation policy and fairness for Shannon Airport; transparency in the food chain, fair prices for farmers and security of supply; as well as assurances over the future of major capital projects for Clare, including the Holy Island visitor centre, the bypass of Killaloe and the new bridge for Ennistymon.