Gilmore praises courage of his TDs as rebel Nulty quits
Labour leader under fire as councillors also leave party
TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has taken a sideswipe at departing Labour rebel Patrick Nulty by praising the "courage" of his rank-and-file TDs who stay in Government.
Mr Nulty has left Labour entirely, almost two years after he lost the whip in the Dail for voting against Budget cuts.
Mr Gilmore and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said they were not surprised by the move.
Mr Nulty has always been on the hard left of Labour, and opposed going into power with Fine Gael.
Two Labour councillors have joined him in leaving the party and slating Mr Gilmore and others in the party leadership.
Mr Nulty said the "leadership of the party, and in particular the cabinet ministers who have sacrificed core social democratic demands for their own personal political ambitions, have brought the entire political system into disrepute".
Wicklow councillors Tom Fortune, who was a general election candidate, and Barry Nevin said they no longer believed "the party holds compatible values with us and we can no longer align ourselves with the party's actions".
They also criticised the leadership, saying there was an "unacceptable centralisation operating within the party that is anti-democratic in its nature".
They said they were "repeatedly denied" meetings with Mr Gilmore and ministers, and as a result concluded that the "party leadership are no longer interested in genuine dialogue and hearing the issues of public concern that public representatives needed to get answers to".
They said the cuts in special needs assistants and disability allowances, also cited by Mr Nulty, were the "final straw".
"We believe the Labour Party has lost touch with the people they promised to represent, they have reneged on these commitments," they said.
Mr Nulty, who represents Dublin West, resigned the Labour whip in the Dail only weeks after winning the by-election caused by the death of Brian Lenihan in 2011.
He said his decision to resign his Labour membership was "difficult".
"I no longer believe membership is of any assistance in advancing the political ideas which form the cornerstone of my value system," he said.
"These ideas are social justice, equality and the creation of full employment with quality work in our society."
Mr Gilmore said Mr Nulty "effectively resigned some time ago", adding that there were "always" people more comfortable in opposition than in government.
"He is effectively an opposition TD, even shortly after his election in the by-election," the Tanaiste said, adding that the party had tough work to do.
"The vast majority of Labour representatives have the courage to see that through. I'm not surprised by his decision."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny also said Mr Nulty had "already left" Labour and that it would not have an effect on the Coalition.