LABOUR defector Colm Keaveney has launched a scathing attack on his old party colleagues -- and the "leadership cult" surrounding Eamon Gilmore. The new Fianna Fail TD conversely sings the praises of his new colleagues, saying he is "experiencing a feeling of complete liberation".
He told the Sunday Independent: "It's [FF] a more open party in which one can contribute new ideas and be respected. There is a different atmosphere; it is so much more transparent I keep pinching myself to see could it truly be that different."
However, the arrival of Fianna Fail's newest TD has not been met with open arms within a rancorous Galway East FF organisation, where local members slammed the "secrecy" and lack of consultation surrounding his move.
But Keaveney insists that within Leinster House, at least, he is "at last in an atmosphere that facilitates openness, transparency and accountability".
Sticking the boot firmly into his former leader, Keaveney said that unlike his experiences in Labour under Eamon Gilmore, "there is no leadership cult, no questioning of dissent, there is a pragmatic honesty there I am unaccustomed to".
Keaveney contrasted his relationship with Eamon Gilmore with that of his new boss Micheal Martin.
"Since I joined Fianna Fail, not a week has passed since that I have not had one or two phone calls, the office door is always open, metaphorically anyway," he said.
"There is no Praetorian guard of advisers to prevent access to the leader; there is not any aloofness or chill."
After a pause, Keaveney added: "I fit in."
Referring to tough economic decisions the Coalition has had to make, the Fianna Fail TD claimed the Labour Party is "paralysed by fear about having to face up to the consequences of their decisions".
Instead, he praised his new party, widely blamed by the voters for almost bankrupting the country, for its economic realism.
Keaveney said: "Labour are chasing the coat-tails of Fine Gael. Both are engaged in auction politics which suggests they haven't learnt the lessons of the past, the need for prudential politics."
In contrast, he claimed Fianna Fail is "demonstrating a maturity; a frank truthfulness about how bad things really are".