Expelled Fine Gael TDs and Senators form alliance
Bid for Dáil speaking rights as group insist they are not forming a new political party
Former minister for European affairs Lucinda Creighton is the most prominent member of the group
A number of TDs and Senators expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party for voting against the Government’s abortion legislation have come together to form a “loose alliance”, but the members have insisted they are not forming a new political party.
The most prominent member of the group, composed of five TDs and two Senators, is former minister for European affairs Lucinda Creighton.
The other members are Wicklow TD Billy Timmins, Dublin South TD Peter Mathews, Dublin North-East TD Terence Flanagan and Roscommon TD Denis Naughten. Senators Paul Bradford and Fidelma Healy-Eames are also involved.
Galway West TD Brian Walsh, who also lost the party whip for voting against the protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, refused to get involved, saying the group was motivated by an ulterior agenda to oppose Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Ms Creighton has strongly denied there is any antipathy to Mr Kenny and said the group had come together to pursue common objectives. She said she still regarded herself as a member of Fine Gael.
The group first met last month and will meet for a “think-in” at Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin today.
“The purpose of the meeting will be to explore policy priorities for the coming Dáil and Seanad sessions and to maximise the opportunities for each Oireachtas member to pursue the issues which concern Irish people,” the group said in a statement.
Mr Flanagan said yesterday the group had been established to try and ensure the expelled politicians would get an opportunity to contribute to proceedings in the Oireachtas. “I want to be back in Fine Gael. I am Fine Gael to the core and I totally support the work Enda Kenny has been doing as Taoiseach,” Mr Flanagan told The Irish Times.
He said he intended to continue supporting the Government even though Mr Kenny, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan and Chief Whip Paul Kehoe had said there was no way back into Fine Gael.
“A week is a long time in politics so you never know what might happen. I voted for Enda Kenny in the leadership heave and my decision to vote against the Government was solely to do with the introduction of abortion and had nothing at all to do with the leadership of the party,” Mr Flanagan said .
Mr Timmins also insisted the group was not a party. He said it was made up of individuals who had been penalised for supporting a core Fine Gael value. “We don’t see ourselves as rebels, we don’t see ourselves as a rump, we don’t see ourselves as dissidents,” he said. “We are a group of people who voted on what we saw as a core Fine Gael value and we have been penalised. But that’s fine, we accept that, we want to move on.”
Roscommon TD Denis Naughten also played down the prospect of the group attempting to form a new party. He said the alliance would allow the seven people involved to pool their resources in pursuit of more speaking time on issues such as alternative ways of saving money in the child benefit budget without impacting on ordinary families.