FINE Gael is planning to leave Lucinda Creighton in a senior position in its European sister party for the next two years – despite her vote against the abortion bill.
Although Ms Creighton resigned as a junior minister, she has made it clear that she will not be stepping down as vice-president of the European People's Party (EPP).
Several Fine Gael sources have confirmed that the party would not attempt to remove Ms Creighton – whose term is due to expire in 2015.
There are doubts about whether this is even possible – but the party is also mindful that it would look extremely petty.
"She won it fair and square, why go after someone in a head to head scrap? And she has built up a lot of contacts in the EPP," said one party figure.
Ms Creighton was elected as one of the EPP's 10 vice-presidents last year after a lobbying campaign backed by Enda Kenny and Fine Gael MEPs.
But she will be centre stage with Mr Kenny next March when 2,000 EPP member arrive for their annual congress in Dublin in the National Convention Centre. The decision of the EPP to choose Dublin was welcomed just last month by Mr Kenny and Ms Creighton in a joint statement.
However, Fine Gael is expected to put up a different candidate in 2015, when her current term expires. One party source suggested that it would be Paschal Donoghue, who replaced Ms Creighton as Junior Minister for European Affairs.
Ms Creighton has annoyed senior figures in the party by complaining to Mr Kenny about "fascism" in the wake of the decision not to allow a free vote on the abortion bill. She said when it came to freedom of thought, it was subjective interpretations of conscience "that are the road to fascism".
"I emailed that to Enda," she told the 'Sunday Independent'.
One senior Fine Gael figure said yesterday that Ms Creighton should not be making comments about fascism.
The Government is now preparing to steer the abortion bill through the Seanad, with discussion on the second stage due to start today.
Fine Gael is expecting rebel senator Fidelma Healy Eames and Senator Paul Bradford – the husband of Ms Creighton – to defy the party whip by voting against the abortion bill.