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He's off: Peter Mathews has resigned from Fine Gael Press Association

Peter Mathews has resigned from Fine Gael

Mathews was expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party in July over his vote against the abortion bill.

Updated 1.30pm

DUBLIN SOUTH TD Peter Mathews has resigned from Fine Gael, it has been confirmed.

Mathews was expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party in July over his vote against the abortion bill but has now resigned his membership of the party altogether having had a testy relationship with its leadership for sometime.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio this afternoon, Mathews said the decision to expel him from the parliamentary party had placed him in the position of having to resign.

Mathews informed the Taoiseach by text last night that he would be resigning from the party and delivered a letter to Enda Kenny at his Merrion Street office shortly after 7am this morning.

“Unfortunately I have been placed in a position by the Leadership of the Party that has led me to this decision,” Mathews wrote in the letter addressed to the Taoiseach.

Mathews was one of five TDs to vote against the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill when it passed through the Dáil in July.

As a result he lost the Fine Gael whip, was removed from the Oireachtas Committees on which he sat and was moved to different offices in Leinster House.

On the News at One, Mathews claimed that he signed a document pledging to support Fine Gael policy when he joined the party but said that

“I pointed out at the time that I would not be signing a blind political loyalty to some areas that might be more important and more core…  life and death matters,” he said.

‘The Fine Gael Party experience’

He added that he joined the party on the basis that he reserved the right “to follow my conscience in these areas” and that a senior official – who he did not name – had agreed to this.

Mathews and other expelled Fine Gael TDs have since formed the Reform Alliance and are pushing for speaking rights and committee memberships in the Oireachtas. The group has also adopted a No vote stance on the Seanad referendum.

A statement from Mathews’ office this lunchtime said: “That brings to a conclusion the Fine Gael Party experience for Peter Mathews TD.

“He looks forward to serving the remainder of the 31st Dáil as an Independent TD, recognising mutual advantages and opportunities for contributing to and sharing ideas etc. within a flexible and collegial ‘Reform Alliance’ of members of both Houses of the Oireachtas.”

Mathews is the second Fine Gael TD to resign his membership of the party since it took office two-and-a-half years ago joining Denis Naughten. Though expelled from the parliamentary parties, other members of the Reform Alliance remain members of Fine Gael.

On RTÉ, the newly independent deputy said that he would be running again at the next general election but would not say whether that would be as an independent or as a party candidate.

A qualified Chartered Accountant, Mathews was elected to the Dáil in 2011 having been outspoken during the financial crisis but he frequently clashed with government and his own party.

He once claimed he was more experienced than Finance Minister Michael Noonan and attended a bondholder protest.

Mathews also orchestrated a rare government defeat in an Oireachtas Finance Committee vote on calling Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan to appear before it in March 2012.

First published 12.57pm

Read: Reform Alliance members want appointments to Oireachtas committees

Read: Mathews apologises for “clumsy sentence” on Vincent Browne show

More: ‘Politics is no Cinderella game’: No way back for Fine Gael rebels, Kehoe insists

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