Labour opts for legal route to oust Keaveney
Party chair ready for 'David vs Goliath' fight
LABOUR is preparing to go to law to oust rebel party chairman Colm Keaveney.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and members of the Labour Party Executive Board have requested legal advice as to how to remove Mr Keaveney from the party hierarchy, the Sunday Independent has confirmed.
While Mr Gilmore has repeatedly insisted the Galway East TD's position is "untenable", a defiant Mr Keaveney yesterday said he is preparing himself for a "David versus Goliath" legal battle, which will come down, in his view, to "who has the deepest pockets".
He said it has been suggested to him that the leadership of the Labour Party intends to use a "court martial type system to remove my membership of the party and de facto the chairmanship of the party".
As a result of voting against the Social Welfare Bill, which gave legal effect to the Budget cuts, Mr Keaveney immediately lost the Labour whip in the Dail and was ejected from the parliamentary Labour Party.
However, Mr Gilmore and the Labour Party are caught in a difficult position in which, despite the fact that Mr Keaveney is now effectively an "opposition TD", as chairman of the wider national Labour Party he retains a position on a number of key party committees.
However, many Labour TDs are unhappy that "normal business" cannot take place as long as Mr Keaveney remains in situ, and the Sunday Independent has learned that Mr Gilmore and members of the National Executive Board want legal advice as to what options are available to remove Mr Keaveney from his post.
"Members of the National Executive Board have requested legal advice which will be presented to the. . . board when it meets next month," a Labour spokesman said.
Mr Keaveney yesterday accused Mr Gilmore of attempting to "thwart" his candidacy as chairman of the party, and said it would be "poor judgement" on the Tanaiste's part to "underestimate the democratic primacy of grassroot members.
"It is patently clear to many that Mr Gilmore did all that was possible in his power to thwart my candidacy for chair of Labour. We must not forget that the Labour Party is a democratic party owned by its members," Mr Keaveney told the Sunday Independent.
Those close to Mr Gilmore have conceded there is no "easy solution" readily available to remove Mr Keaveney, though there has been some talk of a party member making a complaint against him, in order to force him out.
Mr Keaveney has repeatedly stated that it is his intention to remain as Labour Party chairman on foot of the mandate given to him by the national conference.