Irish coalition government to lose formal majority in parliament

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Ireland’s governing coalition is set to lose its formal majority in parliament after one of its deputies defied it in a vote, a government lawmaker said.

The government will as a result be reliant on sympathetic independent deputies to pass legislation in the coming months, the lawmaker said.

A member of the centre-right Fine Gael party, Joe McHugh, on Wednesday voted against a bill to set the level of compensation for owners of homes constructed using defective blocks – legislation that impacts many in his constituency.

As a result, McHugh later on Wednesday is set to resign the party whip, leaving him outside of the government’s voting bloc, fellow Fine Gael member of parliament Neale Richmond told RTE radio.

That will leave the governing coalition – which also includes Prime Minister Micheal Martin’s centre-right Fianna Fail and the Green Party – with 79 seats in the 160-seat lower house.

Asked if that would leave the government dependent on the votes of independent deputies, Richmond said: “yes, that’s right.”

Richmond said that several members of parliament – including independent deputies and two members of the Green Party who in May lost the government whip for six months for defying the government – consistently vote with the government.

He said he was also hopeful McHugh would continue to vote with the government on other issues.

The development is likely to leave the government trying to pass the country’s annual budget on Sept. 27 without a guaranteed majority.

Photo – Ireland’s Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Micheal Martin EPA-EFE/JOHANNA GERON / POOL

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