Labour chairman Keaveney resigns from party

Move welcomed by Labour chief whip who says Galway East TD had already ‘betrayed’ party members

Colm Keaveney pictured leaving Leinster house yesterday after resigning as chairman and member of the Labour Party. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Colm Keaveney pictured leaving Leinster house yesterday after resigning as chairman and member of the Labour Party. Photograph: Aidan Crawley


Labour chairman Colm Keaveney resigned from the party yesterday saying it was “heading towards disaster”.

The Galway East TD had previously forfeited the party whip by voting against the Government over contentious budgetary measures last December. He subsequently defied calls from the party leadership to relinquish his position as Labour chairman.

“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,” Mr Keaveney said in an email to party members.

Social infrastructure
He said the party’s elected representatives had abandoned the policies of “economic justice” and were doing immense damage to the social infrastructure of the country. “I can no longer partake in any way in what has become a political charade.”

Speaking on the plinth outside Leinster House, he said “the straw that broke the camel’s back” was his inability to communicate with Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn during the controversy surrounding planned cuts to special needs supports, which were reversed earlier this week.

“Too many at the Cabinet table are willing to trade what they held dear for one more hour in the sun,” Mr Keaveney said. In reference to his strained relationship with Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore, Mr Keaveney suggested his departure would probably prompt the popping of corks in Iveagh House, Mr Gilmore’s departmental office.

Mr Keaveney had also been at odds with his party on the issue of abortion. “Labour is a pro-choice party and I never had a difficulty with that until it came to considering the recent legislation,” he said.

He is a Siptu official on leave of absence from the trade union.

Labour’s chief whip Emmet Stagg said he welcomed Mr Keaveney’s resignation from the party, claiming the Galway East deputy had already “betrayed” members.

“His latest resignation follows his departure from the Parliamentary Labour Party in December 2012, and his resignation of party membership in 2007. Since he resigned the whip, he has consistently attacked Labour, thereby betraying the party members who elected him as chair,” Mr Stagg said.

Mr Keaveney will be replaced as party chair by Lorraine Mulligan, who was vice-chair.

Dublin West TD Patrick Nulty resigned from the party last Friday.

Labour returned a record 37 TDs in the February 2011 general election, but those who subsequently lost the whip are Mr Keaveney, Mr Nulty, Róisín Shortall, Tommy Broughan and Willie Penrose, who is expected to return to the fold in the autumn. Senator James Heffernan and MEP Nessa Childers have also defected.