Keaveney raises 'kangaroo court' fears

 

A Labour spokesman has strongly rejected comments by Colm Keaveney that the party is about to set up a “kangaroo court” to remove his membership.

The Galway East TD, who lost the party whip when he voted against social welfare cuts in the budget, still remains as party chairman, having been elected by delegates to last Aprils party conference.

“It is being suggested that the leadership of the Labour Party intends to use a kangaroo-court-type system to remove my membership of the party and de facto the chairmanship of the party,” Mr Keaveney said yesterday. “While nothing would surprise me, I find it ironic that this much effort would be made to depose me.”

Mr Keaveney added that “efforts of this calibre were needed during the budget negotiations to uphold a commitment on child benefit made by Eamon Gilmore days before the 2011 general election.

“It is patently clear to many that Mr Gilmore did all possible in his power to thwart my candidacy for chair of Labour. It would be poor judgment on his behalf to underestimate the democratic primacy of grassroots members.”

‘Entirely without foundation’

Asked to comment on Mr Keaveney’s remarks, a Labour spokesman said last night his suggestion was “entirely without foundation”.

In an email to almost 2,000 party members last week, Mr Keaveney said he intended to bring their “reflections on the recent budget” to the party’s central council next month.

The email continued: “As you are no doubt aware, I recently found it necessary to vote against the social welfare Bill, as a consequence of which I have now lost the membership of the parliamentary party.”

He added: “I am currently in possession of two mandates: as an elected TD and as party chairperson. This decision was not taken in my capacity as chair but was made after consulting with my constituents and supporters in Galway East.

“I made a promise to the people of Galway East that I would seek to ensure that a floor of decency would be maintained through the safeguarding of the income needed to allow them to protect the welfare of their families.

“I intend to continue on as party chair and to respect the mandate I received from members to represent their interests within the internal democratic fora of the party.

“The chair is in the gift of the membership of the party and I will place myself before the membership again at our next conference, whenever that may be, and submit myself to their judgment.”

He wrote: “I will remain, in the main, a supporter of Government policy and in particular, a supporter of Labour policy in Government. I appreciate and am thankful for the many messages of support that I have received over the last week.

“I also appreciate the messages from those who do not agree with my actions. We are a democratic party and disagreement and discussion are not a fault but a strength in any democratic body.”

A meeting of Labour’s executive board chaired by Mr Keaveney on December 19th was suspended and a party spokesman said afterwards that it could not take place “under the chairmanship of somebody who was effectively an Opposition TD”.