Monday 25 September 2017

Mathews digs heels in as party bosses cut off his office phones

Peter Mathews
Peter Mathews

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FINE GAEL TD Peter Mathews is bizarrely digging in against efforts by party bosses to relocate him from his office in Leinster House.

The phone lines and internet connection in Mr Mathews's office in the Dail were disconnected as the party tries to evict him after he voted against the abortion legislation.

In the continuing fallout from the abortion vote, the Dublin South TD lost the Fine Gael whip when he voted against the Government – and was warned in advance of the consequences.

As a result, his office is being moved from the FG corridors of Leinster House to another location in the building.

It is standard practice for TDs who lose the party whip to be moved away from party offices to another area of the building.

Government chief whip Paul Kehoe said Mr Mathews knew what would happen when he voted on the abortion legislation and was formally notified a week ago about his move.

"Before Peter Mathews voted against the Government, I had a meeting with him and informed him of the consequences. Among the consequences are having to move office from the Fine Gael corridor. His phone line and internet access are working fully in his new office," he said.

But Mr Mathews is not satisfied with the new office space on offer and also doesn't want to move.

The former banker and his two staff remain in the old office, but without any phone or internet access.

He says he is involved in an "unnecessary and reluctant move".

Appearing to refer to the phone disconnection, Mr Mathews said there was a "bit of over-enthusiasm to complete an office move".

He said he was still based in the office but his "phone lines have been disconnected". "I am attempting to resolve the matter," he said.

Mr Mathews said he was dealing with the relevant authorities about his move.

"I'll deal with everybody right to the top," he said.

Mr Mathews's office is located on a corridor occupied exclusively by Fine Gael TDs in the Engineering Block, a wing of Leinster House.

The party is seeking to move him to an office in LH2000, the extension opened at the turn of the millennium, on the far side of the building.

All the rest of the Fine Gael rebels are being moved this week.

"They knew it was coming," a party source said.

LOGISTICAL

The party decided to wait until the Dail break for the summer to move the Fine Gael TDs who lost the party whip a fortnight ago.

Former European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton currently occupies a temporary office, until a permanent home is found, after moving out of Government Buildings.

Her ministerial office was taken up almost immediately by her replacement, European Affairs Minister Paschal Donohoe.

The two rebel senators will be moved once the Seanad winds up for the summer today.

A spokesman for the government chief whip said party members are kept on the same corridor for logistical reasons.

"The movement of office space for people who lose the party whip is standard practice," the spokesman said.

The Houses of the Oireachtas said it was just facilitating the move.

"It's really a matter between the Deputy and the party whip," a spokesman said.

Independent Senator David Norris said Mr Mathews was getting the "heavy gang" treatment to force him out of his office.

Irish Independent

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