Reform Alliance (Ireland)
|Formation||13 September 2013|
|Dissolved||3 February 2016|
|Legal status||Registered third party with SIPO|
The Reform Alliance was an Irish political group formed on 13 September 2013 by Oireachtas members who had been expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party for voting against the party whip. Since the dissolution of the 31st Dail, it has been defunct. Its members described it as a "loose alliance" but did not preclude forming a political party in the future.
The Reform Alliance was announced on 13 September 2013 by five TDs (Lucinda Creighton, Terence Flanagan, Peter Mathews, Denis Naughten and Billy Timmins) and two senators (Paul Bradford and Fidelma Healy Eames). All had been expelled by Fine Gael; Naughten for opposing the downgrade of Roscommon County Hospital in the 2011 budget, and the others in July 2013 for opposing the Fine Gael–Labour coalition's Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013. Brian Walsh, another Fine Gael TD expelled over the 2013 Act, declined to join the bloc. Creighton had the highest profile of the founders, having been Minister of State for European Affairs prior to her expulsion. She denied being the leader of the new group.
Reform Alliance members requested a change to the standing orders of Dáil Éireann to allow it speaking rights. While some ministers suggested the TDs could join the technical group, other commentators argued they were ineligible as they had been elected for a recognised party. There was also speculation about a realignment of the pre-existing technical group, excluding the more left-wing members and including the Reform Alliance and other ex-government TDs.
On 18 September 2013, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett changed the procedure for allocation of time during debates on government business: in each round after the initial round of group spokespersons, a new slot for "others" is to be added after those of recognised groups. Opposition groups were critical of the decision, which would in effect reduce their allocations; some suggested Barrett, a member of Fine Gael, was breaching the neutrality expected of the Ceann Comhairle. This change does not extend to time and resources restricted to groups under standing orders; therefore, "others" have no access to leader's questions, private members' time, and committee membership.
On 25 September 2013, Lucinda Creighton announced that the Alliance was calling for a no-vote in the referendum to abolish the Seanad. Its members had not opposed the bill's Oireachtas votes, which took place after their expulsion from Fine Gael but before the Alliance was formed. Creighton said the Alliance was likely to support the 2014 budget to be announced in October 2013.
The alliance announced a public conference to be held on 25 January 2014 in the Concert Hall of the RDS, Dublin. The Sunday Independent reported that invitations had been given to about 200 high-profile figures, including independent and ex-Fianna Fáil politicians, with media figures recruited to chair discussions. It plans "further conversations on reform in local meetings around the country in 2014". Members of Democracy Matters, although holding similar views to the alliance on Seanad reform, said they would not attend its conference.
The RDS meeting's attendance was reported as 1,000 by RTÉ. The sessions were on political reform (chaired by Tom McGurk; addressed by broadcaster Olivia O'Leary, "Big Society" theorist Phillip Blond, and academic Jane Suiter), on healthcare (chaired by journalist June Shannon; addressed by Jimmy Sheehan of the Blackrock Clinic, Pat Doorley of the Health Service Executive, and academic administrator Ed Walsh), and on the economy (chaired by economist David McWilliams).
The group's founders, while expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party, initially remained ordinary members of the wider party, although ineligible under its rules for selection as party candidates at future elections. On 3 October 2013 Peter Mathews resigned from Fine Gael. In his resignation statement, he described himself as an "Independent TD" and the Reform Alliance as "flexible and collegial". In April 2014, it was reported that Denis Naughten had allowed his membership of Fine Gael to lapse 12 months earlier, and that Creighton and Bradford would let theirs lapse, whereas Flanagan and Healy Eames would renew theirs.
In December 2013 it was reported that the Reform Alliance had registered with the Standards in Public Office Commission as a "third party", which is a group that accepts donations for political campaigns without being a registered political party. This would allow it to raise funds for "research" and for campaigning in the May 2014 local and European elections. In June 2014 TheJournal.ie reported that this registration had not in fact happened, as the process was seen as "too cumbersome". The Sunday Independent reported that Creighton was in talks with independent TD Stephen Donnelly with a view to formally launching a new party in September 2014. Donnelly later said he would not attend the RDS conference. After the 2014 elections The Irish Times reported that Reform Alliance members were planning to discuss a new party with some independent politicians. TheJournal.ie was sceptical of the report. In October 2014 Creigton denied a Sunday Times report that she was "recruiting" for a new party for the next general election, but said she was talking to others about offering voters a "new vision" "different from the existing political parties". In November 2014, The Irish Times reported Creighton had issued invitations to constituency supporters for a December meeting to discuss a possible new party. In January 2015 Creighton announced the party would be launched that March, with the slogan "Reboot Ireland" used until a name was agreed for it. On 13 March 2015, the new party Renua Ireland was launched.
- Sheahan, Fionnan; Griffin, Sam (14 September 2013). "Creighton ramps up pressure on Fine Gael". Irish Independent. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- "The politicians formerly known as the Fine Gael rebels are now the Reform Alliance". Thejournal.ie. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- O'Connor, Niall (27 January 2014). "Second member of Alliance hints at forming political party". Irish Independent. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "Galway TD Brian Walsh opts out of Reform Alliance – RTÉ News". RTÉ.ie. 19 February 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- "'Southside Evita' has true ability". Irish Examiner. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- "Lucinda Creighton has been explaining her new political group Reform Alliance and says it is not a political party". RTÉ.ie. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- Kelly, Fiach (18 September 2013). "FG rebels try to force their way onto committees". Irish Independent. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- Kelly, Fiach (19 September 2013). "Coalition resists rebels' bid to join Dail committees". Irish Independent. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
Mr Kenny caused confusion by saying the TDs can join the Technical Group to do so, although the Oireachtas insists anyone elected under a party banner can't join the Independents. A Government spokesman said there could be different legal interpretations of this rule, but said it is still unlikely any change will happen even if the TDs can't join the Technical Group.
- O'Connell, Hugh (6 August 2013). "TDs speak of 'need for an alternative' amid moves to create new Dáil group". The Journal. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- Burke-Kennedy, Eoin (18 September 2013). "Non-aligned TDs to be allowed Dáil speaking time Deputies to be incorporated in the rotation of Dáil speakers". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- "Opposition fury as rebels win Dáil time". Irish Examiner. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- O'Connell, Hugh (22 January 2014). "Creighton insists RA conference logo is ‘hardly original’ amid Fianna Fáil comparisons". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- Sheahan, Fionnan (25 September 2013). "Fine Gael rebels call for No vote". Irish Independent. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- McConnell, Daniel (5 January 2014). "Lucinda Creighton's 'Monster Meeting' in RDS - Independent.ie". Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- "Reform Alliance to hold conference on January 25". Irish Examiner. 5 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- O'Connell, Hugh (5 January 2014). "‘Everybody will be invited’: Reform Alliance to hold conference at the RDS this month". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Beesley, Arthur (14 January 2014). "Top Independents spurn invite to first Reform Alliance conference". The Irish Times. p. 1. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- Downing, John (14 January 2014). "McDowell wasn't asked to Reform Alliance rally". Irish Independent. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- "Crowd of 1,000 attends Reform Alliance conference". RTÉ.ie. 25 January 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- Carroll, Steven (24 January 2014). "Creighton hopes reform conference can contribute to public debate". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- Kelly, Fiach (21 October 2013). "Fine Gael grassroots calling for Creighton to resign". Irish Independent. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
Although she lost the Fine Gael whip in the Dail over the abortion legislation, Ms Creighton is still a card-carrying member of the party.
- McGee, Harry (10 July 2013). "Is era of blind loyalty to the party finally giving way to more sophisticated voting?". Connacht Tribune. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
The gravity of defiance is illustrated by Taoiseach Enda Kenny's warning that any Fine Gael TD voting against the abortion legislation will be deselected and will not be allowed be a Fine Gael candidate in the next election.
- Kelly, Fiach (3 October 2013). "Peter Mathews resigns from Fine Gael party". Irish Independent. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
- McConnell, Daniel (28 April 2014). "Creighton to formally sever last ties with FG". Irish Independent. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- McConnell, Daniel; Drennan, John (29 December 2013). "Lucinda, Donnelly to talk on new party". Sunday Independent. p. 1. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Third Party Forms". Standards in Public Office Commission. 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- O'Connell, Hugh (3 June 2014). "There’s a lot of talk, but a new political party is not imminent. Here’s why…". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
- Collins, Stephen (3 June 2014). "New political party plans to recruit Independents". The Irish Times. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
- Hosford, Paul (19 October 2014). "Is Lucinda Creighton recruiting for a new party?". TheJournal.ie. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
- "Creighton denies recruiting for new party". RTÉ News. RTÉ.ie. 19 October 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
- Kelly, Fiach (22 November 2014). "Creighton issues invitations to meeting on possible new party". The Irish Times. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- O'Regan, Mark (2 January 2015). "Reboot Ireland: Eddie Hobbs on board for Lucinda's new party". Irish Independent. Retrieved 7 January 2015.