A FINE Gael rebel senator has confirmed she will run in the next general election as an Independent, under the banner of the Reform Alliance, as relations with the party soured further.
The move comes as the party hierarchy continued to adopt a hostile approach to the seven members who lost the party whip over the abortion legislation.
Although first pointing out they were Fine Gael people and expressing the hope they would return to the party, he then said the group was "wandering through Ranelagh, Rathmines and Rathgar dancing to the tune of Svengali McDowell".
Afterwards, several Fine Gael TDs expressed dissatisfaction with Mr Flanagan's comments, feeling it was unnecessary.
None of the members of the Reform Alliance were at the conference.
At the weekend, senator Fidelma Healy-Eames revealed she would contest the next general election as an Independent aligned with the Reform Alliance.
Speaking to the Irish Independent at the Pro-Life Campaign's annual AGM in the RDS this weekend, she said she had "no regrets" over her expulsion from the parliamentary party. "I have absolutely no regrets. It is a really exciting time," she said.
She lost out on a Dail seat in the 2011 election by 56 votes.
To applause from up to 600 pro-life supporters in the RDS, she said she was "proud of the Irish people for the message they delivered to the Government on the Seanad vote.
"The growing sense of arrogance, the bullishness, definitely there was a reaction against that", she commented.