Saturday 29 April 2017

Labour's newest TD won't rule out Budget 'No' vote

Fiach Kelly and Colm Kelpie

THE newest Labour TD -- who has been in the Dail just over a month -- last night refused to rule out voting against the Budget and joining the opposition ranks as soon as next week.

Dublin West's Patrick Nulty, who won the October by-election caused by the death of Brian Lenihan, also denied that a statement he released yesterday, praising Labour rebel Tommy Broughan, was paving the way for his own defection.

It came after Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and party whip Emmet Stagg insisted no other TDs would go overboard on Labour.

Expelled

Mr Broughan went against the Coalition this week on a vote to extend the bank guarantee, and was expelled from the Parliamentary Labour Party.

However, Mr Broughan is still a card-carrying member of the wider Labour Party, and in his statement, Mr Nulty said the Dublin North-East TD is "a long standing Labour member, activist and public representative".

"His decision to break the party whip should be taken very seriously by the party leadership and Labour ministers in government," added the statement, which was released by Mr Nulty personally rather than through the party press office. "It is essential the failed politics of the previous government are ended."

When later asked if he would be a Labour TD after the Budget votes next week, Mr Nulty would only say: "I can guarantee I will be an active member of the Labour Party for a very long time. I hope I'll be voting with the Labour Party for a fair Budget and we'll know when Minister Noonan stands up on Tuesday."

Labour has already lost two TDs since the election. Mr Broughan followed former junior minister Willie Penrose, who resigned from Cabinet and left the parliamentary party last month over cuts to Columb Barracks in Mullingar.

Mr Broughan and Mr Nulty both voted against coalition with Fine Gael at a special party meeting after the general election, as did Dublin Mid-West TD Joanna Tuffy. Ms Tuffy did not return calls last night.

Mr Nulty said he had been "absolutely consistent" in his approach to fixing the economy, and said his decision to send out the statement personally was a technicality. He said questions on how he would vote on the Budget were "hypothetical".

"I think we need to see what the Budget entails. What we need to see is a Budget that's fair and I hope to be voting for a Budget next week that has Labour policies and Labour principles at its heart.

"It's only when you see all the proposals on the table that everyone will be able to form a view of whether it is fair or not."

Mr Gilmore yesterday said no more Labour TDs would defect and added his deputies and senators were ready for tough decisions. He said he was disappointed by Mr Broughan's decision, but claimed it wasn't a surprise.

"I have no reason to believe anyone else is going to follow suit," the Tanaiste said.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said work being done by the Government was "more important than one member of the parliamentary party".

"We have to accept that Tommy voted against the Labour Party entering Government, and was never committed to our participation," the Dublin South-East TD said.

Irish Independent

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