JOBS Minister Richard Bruton says he would like to see “reconciliation” with the Fine Gael rebels, including Lucinda Creighton and Billy Timmins, at some point in the future.
But Mr Bruton said he was not going to get into “speculation” about whether they might return before the next general election.
The minister also said the Fine Gael TDs who lost the party whip over the abortion legislation can join the Dail Technical Group if they want speaking time.
“Obviously people are entitled to use Technical Groups to get speaking rights in the Dail,” he said.
The rebels have formed a group called the ‘Reform Alliance’.
Mr Bruton left the door open for their return to the party at a later stage.
“The truth is Fine Gael has been a family. We have a number of people decided, for their own reasons, not to go along with a pledge that they made at the time of the general election.
“But that doesn’t mean we still don’t have good relations. And obviously at some stage reconciliation can occur. But at this stage, as a Government, we are determined to implement a set of reforms and Programme for Government. We have to have people who have been elected on our platform have to continue to support our platform.
“That’s the way people expect Governments to govern,” he added.
Fine Gael’s director of elections on the Seanad campaign was speaking at the launch of the party’s online campaign for a Yes vote.
The campaign highlights what the party is describing as “key facts” about the Seanad:
* Abolishing the Seanad would generate €20million in savings every year – which, for example, could pay for 350 primary teachers;
* Only 1% of the population elect the Seanad;
* Ireland is the only country in Europe of our size with two chambers of parliament;
* Ten reports have been published on Seanad reform and no significant reform has even been implemented’.