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TDs plotting to leave Mick and Ming out

FIVE members of the Dail Technical Group are planning to form a breakaway party "within months" because they fear the leadership will fall to either Mick Wallace or Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.

The TDs have discussed the plans in recent days and have set an initial June target to establish the new party.

The move is underpinned by demands from shamed deputies Wallace and Flanagan over who will take over the leadership of the Technical Group in June.

At a recent meeting of the group, the pair claimed that they were being "deliberately isolated" and that they should be entitled to the leadership position.

Fiasco

Both TDs nominated each other for the position during the last vote on the matter – but Waterford TD John Halligan was comfortably elected.

However, the penalty points fiasco surrounding Mr Flanagan, coupled with Mr Wallace's tax affairs scandal, has prompted a decision to form a breakaway group.

The group in question includes TDs Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, John Halligan, Catherine Murphy, and Thomas Pringle. It's also expected that Tipperary TD Seamus Healy will also be invited to join.

Contact will be made with the Ceann Comhairle in the coming weeks in relation to the mechanics of setting up the party.

The TDs believe that a scenario in which either Wallace or Flanagan were leader would make the Technical Group "a laughing stock".

Many of the deputies are no longer on speaking terms with Mr Wallace, who has launched an extraordinary attack on the media in recent days.

Some of the members were left "furious" when the tax cheat refused to allow some of the group's speaking time to be allocated to other Independent TDs.

"The stuff surrounding Ming is outrageous, but for Mick Wallace to think he could be leader and address the Taoiseach during leaders questions – what planet is he on?

"We'd be a laughing stock," one source said.

Removed

And another described their plans to land the leadership as "very real", adding: "The Technical Group will split, plans are already afoot."

Due to the current rules governing alliances in the Dail, no TD can be removed from the Technical Group.

After temporarily resigning from the group following revelations that he knowingly underpaid VAT on one of his companies, Mr Wallace returned just weeks later.

Neither Mr Wallace nor Mr Flanagan responded to a request for comment.

See Pages 14 and 15


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