Keaveney crosses the political Rubicon for a second time
Analysis: Keaveney is not a wall flower and it is certain Fianna Fáil consider him worth the risk, writes Harry McGee
What kind of fit will he make for Fianna Fáil? He was an independent before joining Labour and there are some connections with Fianna Fáil in the past.
Keaveney is a personality politician and does strike some very independent - and rebellious - views and it will be interesting to see if his new party deals with that. In other words, Keaveney is not a shy wall flower and it is certain Fianna Fáil are fully aware of that and consider him worth the risk.
It’s certain that he will cause a bit of ruction in the constituency. Micheal Kitt is the sitting TD in the constituency of Galway East. It is being reduced from a four-seat to a three-seat constituency. It’s a long shot for the Fianna Fáil to win two out of three, although Kitt has yet to announce his own intentions (he will be 65 at the time of the next poll).
As it was, it would have been a long shot for Keaveney to retain his seat, even as an independent. In a reduced constituency, the two big parties are likely to predominate although there is a strong independent candidate, Sean Canney, in Tuam. Keaveny’s former colleague Lorraine Higgins also intends to stand for Labour here from her Athenry base. Incidentally, there were strong rumours about Fianna Fáil trying to woo Ms Higgins earlier this year but, if true, it came to nothing.
Will it demoralise Labour? Some of its TDs and Senators didn’t enjoy the best of relationships with Keaveney and will not be sorry to see him go.
However, overall the optics will not be great for the party and will take a little sheen of its party conference this weekend, which was seen as successful.
The timing of it aside, it’s also sure that his former colleagues will remind Fianna Fáil TDs and Senators of some of Keaveney’s comments on the party over the past few years.
He was particularly critical of it when the Mahon Report was published in 2012.
“Fianna Fáil is constantly referenced in the report, which bears testimony to the corrosive and destructive nature of Irish politics, as a consequence of the effect that Fianna Fáil has had on Irish politics down through the years.
“The rampant corruption of many of Fianna Fáil’s members and public representatives is part of the philosophy of tolerance that existed within the party.”
I daresay he will be reminded of those words in the days and weeks ahead.