Video: Keaveney joins FF and will run in Galway East

Martin says former Labour chairman is ‘committed to policies and ideas’

Galway East TD Colm Keaveney has been confirmed as a member of Fianna Fáil by party leader Micheál Martin. He becomes the party’s 20th member of the Dáil and will be one of two deputies in the constituency of Galway East.

 

Galway East TD Colm Keaveney has been confirmed as a member of Fianna Fáil by party leader Micheál Martin.

Mr Martin and Mr Keaveney spoke to reporters outside Leinster House in where it was announced that Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary party had endorsed the application for membership.

He becomes the party’s 20th member of the Dáil and will be one of two deputies in the constituency of Galway East, where leas Ceann Comhairle Micheál Kitt also holds a seat.

The 42-year-old Tuam-based Mr Keaveney confirmed he will be a candidate for the party in Galway East in the next election as he says he has lost none of his support base in the radical changes that were made in the boundary changes.

Mr Martin said Mr Keaveney would add value to the party and would be its spokesman on mental health and special needs.

“He has shown a commitment to policies and ideas. He believes he can make the best contribution by joining FF and pursuing those.”

Mr Keaveny said he had just attended his first parliamentary party meeting and was encouraged by the determination and the enthusiasm of the party.

“Fianna Fáil has learned from the mistakes of the past. “I am delighted to have witnessed a renewal in Fianna Fáil at the grassroots level to suggest my value system is apparent in Fianna Fáil.”

“I was elected in a democratic revolution in 2011. I am delighted that Fianna Fáil has given me an opportunity to represent those values,” he said.

Mr Keaveney said he was lonely as an independent and did not think independence worked in politics.

Responding to senior Labour Party figure Ruairi Quinn’s description of the move as “desperate”, Mr Martin responded by saying there was a “dismissive attitude from the Labour hierarchy from people who disagree with them”.

Asked could he reconcile his previous claims of corruption within Fianna Fáil with his decision to join the party, Mr Keaveney said the party had changed.

Mr Martin said he and his colleagues had “learned from the mistakes in the past”.

Asked if he was nervous about Mr Keaveney’s reputation in Labour as being outspoken, contrarian and maverick, Mr Martin replied: “I take a different view. I am not nervous in any shape or form. From our point of view it is broadening out our views, He said people were joining Fianna Fáil at all levels.

Earlier Mr Keaveney told The Irish Times “my views and those of Fianna Fáil have become very similar, not only on the economy but in the areas of Social Protection and Health,” he said.

Mr Keaveney said he had been struck by the “gravitas and humility” of Mr Martin.

“My voting record was increasingly identical to theirs... I have been working in collaboration with them at the local level.”

Earlier, on Twitter, Mr Keaveney addressed his followers in Latin with the message “Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis - Audentis Fortuna iuvat! (h/t Ovid & Virgil)”, which translates as “perhaps my name will be linked with theirs - fortune favours the brave”.

A former Labour Party chairman Mr Keaveney was elected to the Dáil in 2011 in the four-seat constituency but was expelled from the parliamentary party after voting against the social welfare aspects of last year’s Budget.

In defiance of the wishes of the party leader, he remained as party chairman for a period but subsequently resigned that position and also his membership of the party.

In recent months, there had been suggestions that he may stand as an Independent candidate in next year’s European parliamentary elections in the new Midlands North-West constituency.

Mr Keaveney was a thorn in the side of the Labour leadership for a long period after his election and constantly struck contrary positions to the party leadership.

Before entering the Dáil he was county councillor in his North Galway base around Tuam. He was also a trade union official and was active in student politics when at university.

Since leaving the Labour Party Mr Keaveney has voted against the party and Government on a regular basis, not least against the controversial Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill earlier this year.

Galway East is a constituency that has undergone major boundary changes in the most recent revision. It has been reduced from four seats to three seats with much of the eastern side being moved into a new constituency Roscommon-Galway.

Mr Kitt has yet to confirm if he will stand in the next elect or in which constituency - his own political base in Castleblakeney near Ballinasloe is now part of the adjoining Roscommon-Galway constituency.

With Mr Keaveney as a member, Fianna Fáil’s Dáil strength will increase to 20, the same number as it had after the General Election.

The party lost its sole Dublin seat in the by-electionin Dublin West caused by the death of Brian Lenihan.

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