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"He's a fine deputy!": Row over Labour's belated expulsion of Keaveney from committee

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher stuck-up for former Labour chairman Colm Keaveney in the Dáil this morning.

Colm Keaveney (right) sitting with former Labour colleague Dominic Hannigan in the Dáil this morning.
Colm Keaveney (right) sitting with former Labour colleague Dominic Hannigan in the Dáil this morning.
Image: Screengrab

LABOUR’S ATTEMPTS TO expel its former chairman, Colm Keaveney, from an Oireachtas committee four months after he quit the party led to a row between the Tánaiste and Fianna Fáil in the Dáil this morning.

Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher said that changes proposed by Labour were “asking parliament to rubber stamp a Labour dispute” and hit out at the Tánaiste, praising Keaveney as “a fine deputy”.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore was seeking to push through a motion to remove Keaveney from the Agriculture Committee and replace him with Longford-Westmeath TD Willie Penrose, who rejoined the parliamentary party this week.

Gilmore also wanted to put Penrose on the Public Oversight and Petitions Committee, replacing Cork South-West deputy Michael McCarthy.

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Gilmore said that it was tradition that committee members are nominated by their political parties and hit out at Kelleher.

“I have no objection if you want to offer Deputy Keaveney or any of the opposition groups membership of that committee,” Gilmore told Kelleher. “We’ve no objection to that.”

He said that Labour reserved the right to make its own nominations “as every political party does” and called on Kelleher to “stop the claptrap”.

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After a vote was called, the government won easily and the committee changes were confirmed.

Keaveney lost the Labour whip last year when he voted against social welfare elements of the Budget but he remained on the Agriculture Committee.

The Galway-East quit the party altogether in June and is tipped to run as an independent in next year’s European elections.

More: Penrose welcomed ‘back into Labour fold’ by Gilmore

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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