THE Fine Gael rebels are expected to drift away from the party completely in the run-up to the next general election.
Peter Mathews became the first member of the newly formed Reform Alliance, made up of TDs and senators who lost the party whip, to resign their Fine Gael membership.
But the exodus is expected to continue as the rebels are still being left out in the cold.
Mr Mathews is now facing calls locally to resign his seat, just like his predecessor as a parachute candidate in Dublin South, George Lee.
Due to a redraw of the constituency, the number of seats has been reduced from three to five for the next general election.
Fine Gael had three TDs in the constituency so didn't want Mr Mathews back on the ticket.
He says he will contest the next general election outside of Fine Gael.
Last month, Mr Mathews was involved in angry exchanges at a heated meeting with local party members, who were unhappy with his stance on the abortion legislation and wanted to know if he would be running as an Independent.
Fine Gael Cllr Neale Richmond said there was "delight" in the local party organisation at his departure.
"There is general delight in the organisation because we won't have half an hour of our lives taken away every month listening to him.
"It's not a surprise. He ran as a Fine Gael candidate. Perhaps he should resign his seat now and seek re-election as an Independent. George Lee resigned altogether. Why can't Peter Mathews?" he said.
Mr Mathews joined the party just a month before the 2011 general election, so he has lasted just over two-and-a-half years as a Fine Gael member.
But the former banker isn't expected to be the last of the rebels to depart.
The Reform Alliance is made up of TDs Lucinda Creighton, Billy Timmins, Terence Flanagan and Mr Mathews plus Senators Paul Bradford and Fidelma Healy-Eames, all of whom voted against the Government on the abortion legislation. It also includes Denis Naughten, who resigned the whip over the downgrading of Roscommon hospital.
"Peter didn't tell anyone. He does his own thing. I don't expect a number of us will be Fine Gael members come the next general election. I just don't think that it's likely," a source in the group said.
"And if they (the Fine Gael leadership) want to kill any of us off, they'll find a reason."
Fine Gael said it noted Mr Mathews has decided to resign his membership of Fine Gael.
"We wish him well," a party spokesman said.
But FG sources dismissed his claim he was given a special dispensation at the last general election to vote against the party on matters of conscience.
Mr Mathews blamed Taoiseach Enda Kenny for his decision to resign from Fine Gael. He said that the party leadership had made it clear there was no way back for him.
Mr Kenny has repeatedly said that the Fine Gael rebels who voted against the abortion legislation will not be allowed to run as Fine Gael candidates in the next general election.