Fitzpatrick will back budget if Fine Gael ‘look after middle class’

Colleagues knew Peter Fitzpatrick, who will run as independent in next election, was unhappy

Peter Fitzpatrick: “I felt isolated, like I was just there to push a button”

Peter Fitzpatrick: “I felt isolated, like I was just there to push a button”

 

All Government TDs were instructed they had to be present – there were no exceptions. Even Cork North Central TD Dara Murphy – who now works with the European People’s Party, has said he will not contest the next election and is rarely if ever seen around Leinster House – turned up. The Government won the vote comfortably, by 59 votes to 49, with 29 abstentions on the motion of no confidence in Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy.

Lowry and Grealish voted with the Government. Harty abstained. Michael Healy-Rae wasn’t present for the vote.

The Government loses votes all the time. But mostly these are on Private Members’ motions, which the Government then simply ignores. Sometimes the defeats are on Private Members’ Bills, but typically these move into the legislative queue and are never heard of again.

Some of these Bills are on substantive Government legislation, but none of them are votes the Government has to win to stay in office – that is, none of them involve confidence in the Government, and none of them are money Bills, which by convention if the Government loses, it has lost the confidence of the House.

Running parallel to this uncertainty is the fact that many - if not most - of the unaligned Independents have no more desire for a general election than the Government does.

Fitzpatrick unhappy

Peter Fitzpatrick’s decision to run as an independent in the next election has surprised some party colleagues who knew he was unhappy – and that he was facing a challenge from Fine Gael councillor John McGahon – but expected him to bow out of politics.

Fitzpatrick had been a vocal opponent of abortion during the referendum campaign. He was a member of the all-party Oireachtas committee that recommended abortion on request be legalised up to 12 weeks, though he strongly dissented from the committee’s majority view. He voted against holding the referendum.

In the referendum Louth voted in line with the national trend – by 67 per cent to 33 per cent in favour, with some 23,000 voters opposing the constitutional change.

However, the sitting Fianna Fáil TD for the constituency, Declan Breathnach, also voted against holding the referendum.

Push a button

Yesterday, Mr Fitzpatrick said during his time as a Fine Gael backbench TD he felt “like I was just there to push a button”.

Speaking on Tuesday about the reasons for his departure, Mr Fitzpatrick said for the “last 15 months no one was listening to me, I felt isolated, like I was just there to push a button”.

Mr Fitzpatrick also claimed Fine Gael was more interested in style than substance and said middle-class households were not being looked after.

When asked on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke whether the Eighth Amendment had influenced his decision, he replied: “That’s only one thing. I do have a problem with abortion. There’s no way Peter Fitzpatrick is going to vote in favour of 12 weeks.”

Asked whether he would support the Government during votes on the budget Mr Fitzpatrick said he would, once the Government “look after the middle class”.