Tuesday 17 October 2017

Grassroots warn they won't back Creighton

'Unlikely' she can run for Fine Gael at next election

Lucinda Creighton has said she will fight to run for the party again
Lucinda Creighton has said she will fight to run for the party again

Fiach Kelly, Ralph Riegel and Lise Hand

EUROPEAN Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton has been given a "blunt" warning that her local organisation may not back her to run for Fine Gael at the next election if she votes against the abortion bill.

Ms Creighton held a weekend meeting with close political allies in her Dublin South East constituency ahead of the crucial Dail vote tomorrow night.

She has indicated she will fight to run for the party again after Taoiseach Enda Kenny said all rebels would not be allowed stand under the Fine Gael banner at the next election.

Mr Kenny again ruled out removing the suicide clause from the legislation as requested by Ms Creighton, and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said: "We do not govern for individuals, we govern for the common good."

A Fine Gael spokesman has slightly altered Mr Kenny's tough stance, saying it is "unlikely" rebels will be allowed run for the party.

DAMAGED

Candidates approved at local- selection conventions have to be ratified by the Fine Gael national executive, where Mr Kenny has a major say.

Ms Creighton's prospects of standing for Fine Gael again if she loses the whip in the Dail will be seriously damaged if her local organisation turns against her.

She was warned that if she is to stand any chance of getting their backing, she must – at the very least – prove her "bona fides" by voting with the Government on every occasion after the abortion bill.

This would also include backing the party in the referendum on abolition of the Seanad, which she has already expressed unease about.

Paddy McCartan, a Dublin city councillor for the Pembroke ward, met Ms Creighton on behalf of local party members over the weekend.

Mr McCartan is politically close to Ms Creighton, having nominated her for her maiden Dail run in 2007, and said they had a "blunt exchange" on the abortion bill.

"I got the impression she was not for turning," Mr McCartan told the Irish Independent. "I met her to discuss the issues and I left her in no doubt about the views of the members in Dublin South East and I asked her to take that into consideration.

"It looks like her mind is made up. She will be a huge loss to the party and to the constituency. Anyone who votes against the party would then have to prove their bona fides by supporting the party thereafter.

Mr McCartan said he had "definitely" told Ms Creighton she could lose that support if she voted against the bill, and many would "seriously reflect" on their support for her.

"Many of my personal supporters have said they would have to reflect on it if she takes this approach," he added.

Ms Creighton is widely expected to vote against the bill and there are doubts over TDs Michelle Mulherin, John O'Mahony and John Paul Phelan.

Yesterday, Mr Kenny again said the suicide clause could not be removed from the bill, saying such a move would make the bill "unconstitutional".

He also refused to comment on the internal row in Fine Gael, which saw Ms Creighton accuse the party's deputy leader, Health Minster James Reilly, of misleading people.

Mr Kenny said he "wouldn't deal with any individual in public, obviously the Fine Gael party is one party; it deals with its own matters internally".

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said all government TDs were expected to support the legislation.

Irish Independent

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