Kenny leaves door open for rebels' return
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has left the door open for bringing back some of the Fine Gael rebels who opposed his abortion legislation.
Until now, he has maintained a hard line on the four Fine Gael TDs and two senators by insisting they would not be allowed to run for the party in the next general election.
That prompted the rebels to set up the Reform Alliance, which is holding its first public conference in the RDS in Dublin at the end of the month.
But when asked if there was any way back into the party for the Fine Gael rebels, Mr Kenny said: "You can never say 'No' to anything.
"But clearly the decision made by a number of deputies was in contravention of the rules of the party, which they signed on for, and that was very clearly expressed by members of the party over the past period."
Fine Gael sources predict that Mr Kenny may indeed allow Galway West TD Brian Walsh to rejoin the parliamentary party.
He accompanied Mr Kenny on a tour of Galway city during a recent visit there --and is not a member of the Reform Alliance. But the future for others who have joined the Reform Alliance is more uncertain.
So far around 200 people have registered for the Reform Alliance's one-day event in the RDS, which will concentrate on the economy, the health sector and political reform.
But questions have been raised about the absence of the abortion issue from the agenda -- the issue accounted for the departure of six of the seven Reform Alliance TDs and senators from Fine Gael.
Independent TD John Halligan said the Reform Alliance had to let people know where they stood on such a key social issue.
"Let them set out their social agenda on abortion in the case of abortion, gay marriage and fatal foetal abnormalities," he said.
Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain branded their meeting as "pathetic", saying that they had opposed the abortion legislation, which was required under the Constitution and as a result of referendums.
But Reform Alliance TD Lucinda Creighton said that she was disappointed with the comments.
She said it could not be any clearer as to where members of the Reform Alliance stood on abortion.
"We happened to be kicked out of Fine Gael because we honoured a commitment made at the last election.
"Maybe it would suit Aodhan O Riordain's agenda for us to keep talking about it," she said.
Ms Creighton said she wanted to look at how the country would deal with the challenges it faced over the next 10 years.
"We want to ensure it doesn't make the same mistakes of the past. That's my priority and that's the priority for the Irish people," she said.