Monday 23 October 2017

Kenny: FG rebels will not stand at next election

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Fiach Kelly Berlin

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny says he wants to make it "perfectly clear" that any Fine Gael TDs who vote against the abortion bill will not be party candidates at the next general election.

In his first comments since four TDs were expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party after voting against the bill in its initial stages in the Dail, Mr Kenny said the rebels are all "adult people" who should know the consequences of their actions.

Mr Kenny's comments will also serve as a warning shot to TDs - including European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton - who may vote against the bill at its final stages.

Some of the TDs who have lost the whip so far - Brian Walsh, Terence Flanagan, Peter Mathews and Billy Timmins - had expressed hope Mr Kenny might allow them stand for Fine Gael in future.

They also hoped the Taoiseach might show leniency, but Mr Kenny is standing firm and said the TDs expelled themselves.

While attending a summit on youth unemployment hosted by German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, where he was accompanied by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, Mr Kenny was asked about rebels standing under the Fine Gael banner in future.

"I would find that very difficult to have a position where people who know when they sign at the beginning what it is about," Mr Kenny said. "I don't expect that they can be candidates for the Fine Gael party in the next general election. I hope I make that perfectly clear.

"It's regrettable to lose any member of a party. In this case I invested a lot of personal time myself over the years in working with many candidates and all of those who obviously were elected, so that's regrettable."

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