Creighton denies her political career is over

Former junior minister says politics a ‘brutal’ profession after Fine Gael expulsion

Former minister of state for European affairs Lucinda Creighton waves as she leaves Government Buildings yesterday. She resigned from the Government earlier after voting against it  on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Former minister of state for European affairs Lucinda Creighton waves as she leaves Government Buildings yesterday. She resigned from the Government earlier after voting against it on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Sat, Jul 13, 2013, 12:16

Former minister of state for European affairs Lucinda Creighton has pledged to fight on in politics and remain in Fine Gael after forfeiting both her ministerial office and parliamentary party membership.

The Dublin South-East TD, who voted against the Government during the abortion legislation debate on Thursday night, described the current Dáil as a “sorry place” but insisted her passion for domestic politics has not diminished.

‘Brutal’ profession
“What I say to people who canvassed for Garret FitzGerald and who’ve been there through the decades – real, genuine, loyal Fine Gael people who are just so upset about this – I’ve been saying to them, ‘This isn’t about competition between me and Fine Gael because I am Fine Gael’.”

Ms Creighton described politics as a “brutal” profession in an interview with The Irish Times and said it was “bizarre” that she had been expelled from the parliamentary party for voting with her conscience.

“You have to stand up and be counted in politics sometimes and I’ve no regrets that I did that. None whatsoever . . . It’s sad, it’s unfortunate but I’m sure I’ll be back. I don’t see it as the end by any means,” she said.

“I think the idea that you’re down and out because you take a position and you stand up for what you believe to be right, that somehow that’s the end of your political career. I think that’s total nonsense to be honest.”

Ruled out
Ms Creighton objected to the inclusion of a suicide clause in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, which proceeds to the Seanad on Monday having been passed by the Dáil. She had appealed for a relaxation of the “archaic and out-of-date” whip system but this was firmly ruled out by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

She said ministers for European affairs in other EU states had texted her yesterday to say they could not understand why she had been effectively sacked, “because it just doesn’t happen in any other country – nobody is ever asked to vote against their conscience”.

Ms Creighton will travel to Washington next week to represent the European People’s Party (EPP), of which she is a vice-president, at a conference and hopes to be actively involved in the grouping in the years ahead.

While not interested in running for the European Parliament, “bringing that global and international perspective to the domestic stage” remained a goal, she said.

“I’m a TD and I love being a TD and the likelihood is I’ll be a candidate at the next election but I haven’t thought that far ahead and nor do I wish to.”

Her position on abortion, which has changed since her student days, was influenced by speaking to friends who had a “negative” experience of termination, she said.

Ms Creighton is married to Senator Paul Bradford, who will oppose the abortion legislation in the Upper House next week.

“Paul isn’t just my husband he’s my best friend but I can assure you that I don’t take any political instruction or direction from my husband. The people who have been spreading that around Leinster House need to wake up,” she said.

‘Personal question’
Mr Bradford has made his position on the Seanad abolition referendum clear, describing it as a “cynical political exercise”. Asked how she would vote in the upcoming poll, Ms Creighton laughed: “That’s a very personal question and one that I won’t answer for fear of offending my husband.”

So is it a point of difference between them? “We don’t agree on everything. Like every couple we have our points of disagreement.”

Ms Creighton rejected speculation that she would be involved in a new party or might liaise with Libertas founder Declan Ganley, who has proposed a fresh political movement that respects the conscience of every legislator on issues such as abortion.

“He says he’s a European federalist. I would share that view but I think that we actually practise what we preach in a very different way so I don’t know that our approach would be compatible.”

The qualified barrister also dismissed speculation that she would pursue a career in law. “I really loved the Law Library but I’m just not sure that I want to go back rather than go forward.”