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FG rejects Mathews's claim he can skip Dail votes

OUTSPOKEN Fine Gael TD Peter Mathews is in more trouble with the party hierarchy after claiming he was allowed to skip Dail votes on contentious issues.

Mr Mathews, a TD for Dublin South, told TV3's 'Tonight with Vincent Browne' he's "not supporting a Government, I'm informing it from within". And when it was put to him that he voted with the Coalition, he said: "I've had pairs. On matters that I consider important, I've had pairs."

Mr Mathews had a pair – when TDs are allowed to stay away for a vote – on the night the liquidation of Anglo-Irish Bank went through the Dail, and was recently given a pair for a vote on a private member's motion.

But Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe said he is not given pairs on issues he doesn't agree with. Mr Kehoe, a TD for Wexford, said no such agreement is in place with Mr Mathews.

It is expected that party bosses will speak to him about his comments in the coming weeks.

"No member of our party is allowed skip votes on issues they might find contentious or important. Everyone is expected to vote with the party whip," Mr Kehoe told the Irish Independent.

"The party pledge signed when people became general election candidates states clearly they must vote with the party when required to do so by the whip."

Mr Mathews also told TV3: "Do I vote for them (the Government) in the lobbies? In general, yes," but added: "In a family not everyone agrees."

He did not return calls but has a history of speaking out against his party, including when he recently called for an emergency Budget to scrap the property tax.

He called this idea a "bigger step after some deep thinking" and said the money could be made up through a 2.5pc levy on corporation profits, a betting tax and a levy on income over €120,000.

The former banker also attended an anti-bailout festival in Cork in January, and was given an early morning dressing down by Taoiseach Enda Kenny last year.

Irish Independent