Labour chairman Keaveney votes against Government
Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney has voted against the Government in the Social Welfare Bill and is to be expelled from the parliamentary party.
Asked tonight whether Mr Keaveney would remain as party chairman, Labour leader and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told RTÉ: "I don’t think it’s tenable for someone who is not in the parliamentary Labour Party to hold senior office in the Party. That’s a Party matter we’ll have to deal with in the course of time".
Mr Keaveney is to be the fifth Labour TD to lose the party whip in the 20 months of the Coalition .The Galway East TD voted with the Opposition on section 5 of the Bill which includes the cuts in the respite care grant. The Government won the vote by 87 to 54 in a comfortable margin. The Opposition then called for a walk through vote on the section.
In a Labour-issued statement tonight, party leader and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the party “went into Government with our eyes open, knowing there would be difficult decisions and difficult days. Today was one of those days”
He “welcomed the passage of the Bill" and thanked “I am grateful to, and proud of, the Labour deputies, who had the courage to vote with the Government today," he said.
While the Bill contained several difficult provisions “But there were many other provisions that it didn’t contain – options that were not taken”, he said.
Mr Gilmore said the Budget was “difficult" but “in the times in which we live, it is a fair budget, and one which in many ways reflects Labour’s core values”.
There had been continued speculation about Mr Keaveney's intentions which had dampened after he voted with the Government on the second stage of the Bill, which was the introductory debate. He also voted with the Government to allow the committee stage debate to go ahead.
There were defections on previous issues by Labour TDs Willie Penrose, Tommy Broughan, Patrick Nulty and Roisin Shortall. Ms Shortall resigned from the party.
Just before the vote Mr Keaveney tweeted “Acta non verba @labour”, a Latin phrase meaning deeds not words.
Mr Keaveney said that that he will remain as Chairman of the Labour Party and was “pretty comfortable” in the knowledge that the previous Labour chair was not a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Speaking after the vote on Newstalk radio, Mr Keaveney said it was with a heavy heart that he decided to vote against the Government, but that he found it very difficult to support measures that attack vulnerable people in society.
“I know people are in pain out there. My value system can’t actually allow me to vote for this budget and I’m very proud of the Labour Party and I’m very proud of the people I work with,” he said.