Labour chairman Keaveney resigns from party
Galway East TD has been in conflict with leadership since he voted against Government on budget
Full text of Colm Keaveney’s letter to Labour Party members:
It is with deep regret that I write to you to inform you of my decision to resign my membership of the Labour Party. Please find below the statement that I have just delivered in Leinster House laying out the reasons for my decision.
It was with a heavy heart that delivered that statement and have thought long and hard about it. I can no longer reconcile my political beliefs with the current economic policies being implemented by the Government and in many cases by Labour Party ministers. I believe that Labour is now heading towards disaster. I am not referring to electoral disaster here but rather to one whereby the party’s elected representatives effectively abandon the policies of economic justice that have been at the heart of the party since 1912 and do immense damage to the social infrastructure of the country. The evidence for this lies all around us.
Many senior members of the party seem to believe that inequality is something that must wait to be addressed until after the current crisis has passed rather than seeing that addressing such is an absolute necessity in repairing the damage inflicted during the so-called ‘Tiger’ years. This current crisis is not simply economic but social and political too and all three need to be addressed. Failure in this regard is a failure of vision. I can no longer partake in any way in what has become a political charade.
It may be claimed that I am doing this in response to the interference in my constituency by certain elements within the party or in efforts to undermine me on a national basis, including having two staff members of the party threatening to sue me; I am not. I view these things as the normal rough and tumble of politics, albeit with a hint of old fashioned democratic centralism. The public have little patience for the internal wrangling of political parties, seeing them rightly as a distraction from what we ought to be engaged in.
Labour was elected, as was Fine Gael, on a promise of political reform. This included not just reform to political systems but also to the practice of politics. The Programme for Government promised a democratic revolution. The changes in political systems that have been offered are of little substance and little challenge neither the highly centralised nature of the Irish state nor the dominance of the Executive over the legislature. Changes in the practice of politics are non-existent and Labour has singularly failed to lead the way in this area, preferring to sacrifice principled members of the PLP such as Roisín Shortall, to the political expediency of not challenging the political practices of their Government partners.
The current scandal of the Anglo tapes, which is truly outrageous, has also been misjudged by both Government parties. The public do not want ad hominem attacks in the Dáil in response to reasoned contributions by the opposition. They do want the Government seeking to turn this issue into a political football. They want justice, court cases and convictions. Instead there has been a fall in convictions for white collar crime and in the funding of the different bodies charged with investigating such crimes.
It could all have been so different if only for a little political courage and conviction.
I wish you all the very best in the future and thank you for the privilege and honour of having served as Party Chair.
PS Apologies for not getting back to you sooner.