Left 'power block' unlikely

An Independent electoral pact for the next Dáil looks unlikely writes Scott Millar

The possibility that Independent TD's will form a "power block" to endorse a large number of Independent candidates for the up-coming election is receding. Although informal talks are still ongoing between some of the Independents, a number have voiced reservations over such an approach while others are attempting to form a wider, radical-left, community-based coalition.

Tony Gregory, the Dáil's longest-serving non-party TD, said: "There is no block of Independents at the moment. Anything that has happened up to now has been due to approaches from candidates. All this stuff in the media is confusing the issue... There are maybe four or five Independents possibly interested in developing such an idea but it has not happened."

Independent TD Finian McGrath said he was still "hopeful" of progress on group endorsement of Independent candidates, although, he is also separately discussing possible individual endorsement with candidates.

Only one Independent candidate, Derek Keating in Dublin South, has been endorsed – and only on an individual basis – by the six Independent TDs.

A major problem with any Independent's electoral pact would be the support it would be willing to give a government made up of the larger parties. While some of the Independent TDs look upon a block as having the ability to offer conditional support, in exchange for concessions, those TDs and candidates who represent a left-wing activist base would find such a deal difficult to sell to their supporters.

A meeting of left-wing anti-coalition groups has been called by the ATGWU for the 17 June. This will follow on from an informal discussion this week between the Socialist Party and members of the Coalition for an Independent Left (CIL).

These meetings will be discussing the possibility of creating an electoral coalition between community candidates based on a radical-left agenda and opposition to coalition with right-wing parties. It is believed anti-coalition members of Labour and Sinn Féin will be attending the ATGWU meeting. Members of the Socialist Party, Irish Socialist Network, SWP, Workers' Party and independent community activists have also been invited to attend.

Colm Breathnach of the CIL said: "I can understand why people may look for wider support or to cut a deal for constituents. However, that is short term... The CIL and the ATGWU meeting is looking at the possibility of building an alternative block which would promote real change that is about campaigning, not just elections."