Former Fine Gale leader Alan Dukes doesn't believe the Independents will fall in line
Speaking on The Sunday Show with Shane Coleman, former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes stated that a group of independent TDs will not play the role of kingmaker in a new government, as many have been predicting.
After 50 days without a government, talks are set to resume on Monday between the parties as they look to find a solution, despite the protests of Michael Healy-Rae, who believes that they should have carried on through the weekend.
A number of different scenarios have been put forward, many of which include the parties relying on support from independents, something which the entire panel noted would make life difficult.
Former minister Mary O'Rourke highlighted that a report claiming the independent TDs had become rooted in "parish pump" or "pork-barrel" politics was perhaps hard on the group as a whole, noting that "they got the votes to begin with, and we can't deny that. They got votes and they're there, but maybe because they're all individualistic, they're inclined to overplay their hand".
Political editor of The Irish Times, Stephen Collins, noted that a number would be 'oppositionist' as a stance, quoting an unnamed independent who asked "how could he support any government, because that's not what he was elected to do. The people who voted for him expected him to criticise the government, to demand more for his constituency".
Former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes stated that while independents do matter to a government, it works better when there is only a small number of them. He noted the situation in 1997 where Fianna Fáil relied on four independents who were heavily into "pork-barrel politics [...] and they made no bones about it".
"They had a very narrow focus and a limited range of requirements," added Dukes "and the government was able to deliver those. That's OK when you have four, but when you have 15 and they're all going to act in the same way, it becomes extremely difficult, in fact impossible to keep those people in line if that's their attitude, and still manage to get political consensus".
Collins echoed those sentiments when he noted that, while there may be some among the 15 Independents who would be open to supporting Fine Gael such as Katherine Zappone, Michael Harty or Michael Lowry, he expressed doubts it could work, saying "I'm not even sure if any of these things do add up".