TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has had to back away from moves to remove rebel Labour TD Colm Keaveney as party chairman.
Legal advice received by the party indicates Mr Keaveney will have to be allowed to remain in his position as party chairman for the remaining nine months of his term. The Galway East TD is to chair a meeting of the Labour executive in Dublin today, with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton due to be in attendance.
A Labour spokesman rejected claims by Mr Keaveney that Mr Gilmore will use "whatever avenue" he could to oust him as chairman. "There is no provision in the party constitution for removing him or any appetite for taking him on in this way," he said.
Mr Gilmore had previously said that Mr Keaveney's position as chairman was "untenable" because he voted against the social welfare cuts in the Budget. But Mr Keaveney has insisted that he will not resign.
Labour's legal adviser, Cllr Richard Humphreys, was asked at the previous national executive meeting in the presence of Mr Keaveney to draw up a report on the legal position of the party chairman.
It is understood that this report has been completed and is likely to state that Mr Keaveney cannot be removed just because he voted against the social welfare cuts.
Labour intends to leave Mr Keaveney in his position as chairman until the annual party conference of members takes place in October.
Members will have the opportunity then to re-elect Mr Keaveney as chairman or to vote for a replacement. The party is not going to agree to Mr Keaveney's request to bring forward the annual conference to April.