Wednesday, February 05, 2020

COUNCILLOR Matt Shanahan has ruled out joining any political party if elected to the 33rd Dáil ‘unless the offer is such that the people of Waterford would welcome me joining it’.

Addressing his potential Leinster House future during last Thursday’s Waterford News & Star Big Debate at the WIT Arena, the independent candidate came under pressure to pin his colours to the mast from Fine Gael Cllr John Cummins.

Countering Cllr Cummins’ assertion that he’d expressed a willingness to join a party during a WLR interview, Cllr Shanahan said that he was “willing to align with a party”. He continued: “By the way, John, if I was up in the Dáil and if somebody suddenly came along and said ‘here’s €50 million for WIT’ and ‘here’s €20 million for UHW, would I be a fool not to consider that for the people of Waterford? I have no desire to join a party by the way because I’ve seen the way people in parties act under the whip and Fine Gael are a good example of it; in the last nine years here, we’ve seen exactly what the whip has delivered for us.”

The next exchange of the debate proceeded as follows.

John Cummins (JC): “You’re going to give a commitment here that you will not join a party if you’re elected as a TD?”

Matt Shanahan (MS): “What I said is I will align; of course I will align with parties… 

JC: “You will not join a party if elected as a TD?”

MS: “What I have said is I will align with parties…

JC: “Will you answer the question because you haven’t been clear.”

MS: “I will not answer the question. I am going as an independent. I’m independent…

JC: “And you won’t join a party if you’re elected?”

MS: “I have already answered that question five times.”

JC: “It’s a valid question. You’re standing as an independent.”

This reporter, who co-moderated the debate with colleague Darren Skelton, then intervened and asked Matt Shanahan the following question: “Are you ruling out joining any political party?”

Cllr Shanahan replied: “I am ruling out joining any political party unless the offer is such that the people of Waterford would welcome me joining it.”

JC: “That’s a qualified answer.”

DK: “So you would consider joining a political party under the right circumstances? (with Cllr Cummins interjecting by commenting: “That’s a qualified answer if ever I heard one.”)

MS: “I am qualifying the answer. I’m just saying that I’m here trying to get delivery for Waterford…

JC: “You’ll join Fine Gael?”  

MS: “Sorry, John, do you mind? Can you just take a second, please? Take a chill pill. I am trying…

JC: “Don’t throw your toys out of the pram there, Matt.”

MS: “I am trying to deliver for Waterford. I am trying to deliver for Waterford…

JC: “Answer the question.”

MS: “If the political ground is such that the issue of joining a political party comes for delivery, I will bring that to people who are advising me. It will not be my choice. It will be the choice of the people of Waterford.”

When asked by Darren Skelton if he’d contacted Fine Gael with a view to joining the party, Cllr Shanahan replied: “Absolutely not and by the way, Darren, can I just point out something? A lot of information was put on social media to say that I was engaged with Fine Gael (or) in discussions with Fianna Fáil. That is absolutely false. I have never ever sat with anybody in discussions about it.”

Matt Shanahan (Ind) at WIT Arena for the Waterford News & Star Big Debate. Photos: Joe Evans

Cllr John Cummins, who sought clarification from Matt Shanahan regarding his future political intentions.

Big Debate co-moderator and Waterford News & Star Deputy Editor Dermot Keyes.

Big Debate co-moderator and Waterford News & Star reporter Darren Skelton.

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