Sunday 21 December 2014

Labour fails to get O'Keeffe on to banking inquiry

Daniel McConnell and Sam Griffin

Published 05/06/2014 | 02:30

Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry at Leinster House. Picture: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry at Leinster House. Picture: Tom Burke

THERE was further embarrassment last night for the Government as it failed to get its Seanad nominee, Labour's Susan O'Keeffe, onto the banking inquiry.

At a meeting of the Seanad selection committee, only one of Labour's three members, Ivana Bacik, showed up. This meant Independent Senator Sean Barrett and Fianna Fail's Marc MacSharry were selected and Ms O'Keeffe lost out.

Fianna Fail had threatened to withdraw co-operation with the Government in the Seanad, had they blocked Mr MacSharry's nomination. But given the failure of Ms O'Keeffe and another Labour senator Lorraine Higgins to show up, they did not have to act on it.

A report from the select committee will go before the Seanad this morning – and for the Government to overturn the decision, they would have to vote down that report, which has never happened before.

It is the latest blow to the embattled Labour Party which lost its leader Eamon Gilmore last week following a trouncing at the European and local elections.

The issue of whether Labour would go into government with Sinn Fein has surfaced as an early bone of contention in the leadership contest. Yesterday, deputy leader hopeful Alan Kelly insisted he would not support going into government with Sinn Fein, adding that people were not ready for Gerry Adams to hold high office here.

His comments echo those of Joan Burton but are in stark contrast to those of her leadership rival, Alex White, who said he would not rule out a coalition with Sinn Fein.

Meanwhile, Labour chief whip Emmet Stagg last night announced he is supporting Ms Burton in the leadership contest, further boosting her chances.

Mr Stagg said he had told Ms Burton of his decision and also made it known that he will support Cork South West TD Michael McCarthy for deputy leader.

"It was a difficult choice, but I think they are the best people from among a good group of candidates. It is as simple as that," Mr Stagg told the Irish Independent.

Irish Independent

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