FINE Gael abortion rebel Peter Mathews has resigned from the party entirely, just months after losing the party whip in the Dail.
Mr Mathews, a TD for Dublin South, delivered Taoiseach Enda Kenny a letter this morning notifying him of his resignation. He also blamed Mr Kenny and the party leadership for putting him in this position.
In a statement, Mr Mathews, a member of the new 'Reform Alliance' group, said: "Unfortunately I have been placed in a position by the Leadership of the Party that has led me to this decision."
The statement also said the decision "brings to a conclusion the Fine Gael Party experience for Peter Mathews TD".
Speaking on RTE Radio, Mathews launched a robust defence of his decision to quit the party.
“Primarily, it is the leadership that has put me in this position and the position is not one I’d like to linger in,” he said over losing the party whip.
“I’ve waited since June, it’s quite a long time for people to reflect, it’s enough for me to reflect and to see the geography of where I am.”
He said he stood over his stance on abortion.
“I joined the party a month before the elections and I specifically, expressly, mentioned that in areas in morals and ethics... that I reserve the right to follow my conscience on that,” he said.
“I said was joining the party as a candidate for election on that basis. It was discussed with senior people in the Mount St office.”
“A document was handed to me to read and to sign. I don’t sign blank cheques... and I don’t sign things that I feel there might be difficulty with down the line.”
“I pointed out at the time that I would not be signing a blind political loyalty to some areas that might be more core to life and death matters than normal political policy matters.”
In his statement earlier he added: “He looks forward to serving the remainder of the 31 Dail as an Independent TD, recognising mutual advantages and opportunities for contributing to and sharing ideas within a flexible and collegial 'Reform Alliance' of members of both Houses of the Oireachtas."
By Fiach Kelly, Political Correspondent