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"We're at the end of our tether" - Labour can't make this Senator leave his office

James Heffernan had his belongings packed up by former Labour colleague John Gilroy recently. But he’s not budging.

James Heffernan (File photo)
James Heffernan (File photo)
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Updated 1.29pm 

SENATOR JAMES HEFFERNAN says he has no intention of moving out of an office he shares with former Labour colleague John Gilroy, insisting he will not give in to a campaign of “harassment and bullying”.

Heffernan, who lost the Labour whip after voting against budget cuts in 2012, returned from the Christmas break to find all of his personal belongings packed into boxes in the Leinster House office he shares with Labour senator Gilroy.

Gilroy said his former party colleague’s vote against the Water Services Bill last month was the final straw, and at that point he told him to leave. When Heffernan failed to leave the office, he took it upon himself to pack up his belongings.

Heffernan has continued to work in the office on the Labour corridor of Leinster House in recent days, and said yesterday that he would not be moving out.

He insisted: “My colleague (Gilroy) can go look for new accommodation if he so wishes.”

The dispute over office space has migrated to Twitter today:

Labour party whip Emmet Stagg said that the normal practice when somebody loses the whip is that they leave the party offices. He said that Oireachtas authorities had been asked to find alternative offices for Limerick-based Heffernan.

There’s been a high degree of tolerance in regard to the senator involved and we’re at the end of our tether on that. It’s not my job to find him another office, it’s the job of Leinster House authorities so we’ve asked them to arrange another office for him.

‘Bullying’

Heffernan told TheJournal.ie that he has asked the Oireachtas rules and procedures body, the Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP), to deal with the matter.

He said the office was not the issue, claiming “workplace harassment and bullying”, saying:

Everybody should be happy to go into work and for a while I have not really been very content in having to go into that working environment.

john-gilroy-labour-2 John Gilroy

Gilroy strongly denied such claims. He said he has not abused Heffernan once and added:

“We’re all professional politicians, we’re all big boys. He needs to stop playing the victim.”

Cork-based Gilroy said that Heffernan had taken the “route of least resistance” in choosing to vote against the Water Services Bill last month.

“It’s easy electorally to do that, in my opinion. There are difficult things that need to be done. If we all took James’s attitude, we’d be back where Fianna Fáil left us,” he said.

Speaking to gardaí

Heffernan said he had received advice that he should speak to the gardaí if the matter is not resolved satisfactorily and added that he intends doing so.

Speaking to Limerick Live 95fm this morning, Heffernan said that Gilroy’s behaviour was unbecoming and “a terrible example to set”.

“We all have political differences and I respect everybody’s right to their own political opinions. But, you know, you don’t treat someone like that because they disagree with you, it’s ridiculous,” he said.

Heffernan also said he intends to run as an independent candidate in Limerick in the next general election.

First published 8.15am 

Previously: This senator has been kicked out of his office by his former Labour colleague

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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