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Labour Pains

‘I can no longer perform this task’: Colm Keaveney’s resignation statement in full

The Galway East TD has put out a detailed statement explaining his reasons for resigning as chairman and as a member of the Labour Party today.

THE GALWAY EAST TD Colm Keaveney has resigned as chairman and as a member of the Labour Party this afternoon.

He has issued a detailed statement explaining his reasons for resigning.

Here are his words in full:

It has become popular in recent times to talk of ‘hard decisions’. In my experience there are few decisions worth taking that are not reached without considerable difficulty. Politics is about decisions and taking them is just doing our job. Politics is equally about trust and convictions. It is the trust people place in us, and the courage of our convictions, that should enable us to make decisions.

I have been honoured to serve as Chair of the Labour Party. It is a role that was entrusted to me by the members who make up the organisation. I have always promised to question and debate decisions and to avoid the groupthink that destroyed our country.

I know in recent weeks many members may have been disappointed with my objections to certain provisions in the Protection of Life during Pregnancy bill. I apologise to anyone that feels that way but I hope that all can understand that my concerns are genuine. Labour is a pro-choice party and I never had a difficulty with that until it came to considering the recent legislation. However, I believe it is right to question all legislation in order to ensure that what we deliver is just and workable. I hope that all can appreciate that my approach is honest and made with the best of intentions even if they disagree.

Economic issues and the creation of a just society were the reasons I joined the Labour Party and entered politics. These go to the core of my beliefs. While we can all agree and disagree on approaches or particular policies this should remain the central theme and aim of any Labour movement worthy of that name.

I have endeavoured at all times to listen to members views and to articulate their beliefs on such issues, sadly this has often meant that I must come into conflict with those who currently lead the party. I have found that the more I articulate the views of members, or try to facilitate a discussion of real Labour policy, I am seen as a problem, a difficulty, an inconvenience to those who believe they know more and understand more than the people they represent.

Unfortunately I can no longer go along with what is increasingly like a political charade. We promise one thing then do another and blame it on someone else. The members must accept what they are given and the leadership will tolerate no dissent.

It is now apparent that cuts to SNAs, resource hours and to the mobility allowance are not decisions taken in isolation to one another. They are a part of a consistent approach that this Government has taken, whereby those groups least able to defend themselves are targeted for decisive action, while powerful vested interests are left untouched.

The partial reverse of some of those cuts is welcome. However, this is no way to run a country – proposing cuts, distressing people and forcing them to engage in protest to secure the reversal of measures that should never have been decided on in the first place. Why not simply engage in consultation first and try to understand the issue rather than acting arrogantly in believing that you know best?

I have tried to seek change. My aim has always been to see the Labour Party hold true to the proud values on which it was established. I find, however, that I can no longer perform this task. The more I wish to represent even the most basic of Labour values the more alienated I become from those at the top. I am in no doubt that my presence is no longer welcome by them. A party cannot function on that basis. It is with a heavy heart that I am forced to reach the only decision I believe is honourable and resign as Chair of the Labour party and from the Labour party itself.

I entered politics to try and make a genuine difference. None of us expects to change the world but we do hope to have a positive impact. The only barometer we can have is if we retain the trust of those who elect us. Honesty is not a cheap commodity to be traded at the steps of government; it is something we should value. If anyone is to have self-respect and dignity then surely it is in being able to say that they stood by their beliefs and did what they thought was right.

I will continue to represent the people of my constituency and people from anywhere in this country on the same basis that they elected me. I will not breach the contract that they made with me just for the sake of staying in a position. Too many at the cabinet table are willing to trade what they held dear for one more hour in the sun.

Politics can change but only if we have the desire to make it happen. Politicians must be brave and must genuinely believe in something more than their own career. The people decide our fate and all we can do is be happy with our actions and be true to our beliefs. I will stand by the people and I will continue to question and lead when necessary until they decide otherwise.

Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Deirdre, my parents, family and friends for all their support throughout the years. No one can sustain themselves in a political career without the support and advice of those closest to them.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank all of those in Labour that I have worked and debated with during my time in the party. It has been rewarding and I have always been touched by the basic decency of the party’s grassroots membership and their commitment to improving our country and society. I wish them ever success and good fortune in their endeavours.

Read: Colm Keaveney resigns from the Labour Party

Read: ‘I was never a government TD’ – Patrick Nulty on ‘electoral con-job’ claims

Read: Labour councillors resign after Gilmore fails to meet them

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