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Most independents say they won’t vote for Harris

Just one of the Dáil’s 22 Independent TDs said they were going to vote with the Coalition when Fine Gael leader Simon Harris is nominated for Taoiseach on 9 April – however a number are still undecided.

The Coalition has a slender majority and does not need the support of Independents, however the Government would welcome being able to count on some support.

Marc McSharry, who is to step away from politics when this Dáil term comes to an end, said he would back Mr Harris, due mainly to the Wicklow TD’s “personal attention to the amalgamation of St Angela’s College with the Atlantic Technological University”.

Mr McSharry said there are two elections due, which he said is “enough for this year”.

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Matt Carthy has called on all Independent TDs to vote against the nomination of Mr Harris as Taoiseach.

He said the Government has been supported in “every key vote of this term by Independent TDs”.

Mr Carthy said that six independent TDs supported Leo Varadkar’s nomination as Taoiseach, while nine voted for Micheál Martin to become Taoiseach.

“In each crucial confidence vote on ministers and government, independent TDs have allowed Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green party to remain in power,” he said.

Mr Carthy said: “Fine Gael have been in power for too long. It’s time for the people to be giving their say. It’s time for a general election.”

When Mr Varadkar was voted in as Taoiseach in December 2022 he got the support of six independents: Denis Naughten, Michael Lowry, Noel Grealish, Cathal Berry, Peter Fitzpatrick and Mr McSharry.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Naughten, Mr Fitzpatrick and Mr Berry said they were as of now all undecided on whether to support Mr Harris, while there was no response from Mr Lowry or Mr Grealish.

Verona Murphy abstained in the December 2022 vote, but said she will be voting against Mr Harris.

Michael Healy-Rae, Danny Healy-Rae, Violet Anne-Wynne, Marian Harkin, Mattie McGrath, Michael McNamara, Thomas Pringle, Michael Collins, Michael Fitzmaurice, Richard O’Donoghue and Joan Collins have all said they will be voting against Mr Harris.

Michael Healy-Rae said: “I wouldn’t be voting for Simon Harris or I wouldn’t in any way be supporting this Government because I do not have confidence in this Government.

“I have continuously said especially to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, they have lost rural Ireland, the Greens never had it – and that has become very evident in the result of the recent referendum.”

Deputy Harkin said: “We’re in the teeth of a local and European election. Six weeks later, the summer break, and we’re straight into a budget and new ministers will barely have time to get their feet under the table. Now I understand the next few months will be about stabilising Fine Gael and that’s good for them, but that’s not what the country needs.”

Yet to make up his mind is Waterford TD Matt Shanahan, who said: “Well, I haven’t had a chance to sit down with Simon yet, but Simon made very significant commitments to University Hospital Waterford when health minister, some which have not yet been actioned, and certainly in relation to the Southeast Technological University, again very significant commitments.

“Given he wasn’t able to deliver on those when ministers in either department, I’m hoping now that he has something new and fresh to tell me as Taoiseach. So I wait until that conversation has happened to make a decision.”

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