Fine Gael grassroots calling for Creighton to resign
FINE Gael rebel Lucinda Creighton has been told by local activists to "do the honourable thing" and resign from the party entirely.
Rank-and-file members in her Dublin South-East constituency said the former European affairs minister's decision to abstain on a Budget vote last week was the final straw.
Ms Creighton said she will run as an Independent candidate attached to the new 'Reform Alliance' group in the next general election, but insisted she hadn't "even contemplated" resigning her Fine Gael membership.
Although she lost the Fine Gael whip in the Dail over the abortion legislation, Ms Creighton is still a card-carrying member of the party.
But Paddy McCartan, a Dublin city councillor for the Pembroke ward, told the Irish Independent Ms Creighton had shown "disloyalty" and "should do the honourable thing and resign from the party".
Mr McCartan is politically close to Ms Creighton, having nominated her for her maiden Dail run in 2007, and Ms Creighton has described him as a friend.
He said the opinion of grassroots Fine Gael members in Dublin South-East has changed over the weekend, and many now feel she should resign.
Mr McCartan also said she should resign as vice-president of the European People's Party (EPP), the EU grouping Fine Gael belongs to.
But Ms Creighton said: "I think personal comments are best ignored. I'll be in Brussels on Thursday participating in the EPP summit."
Mr McCartan also said it would be inappropriate for Ms Creighton to attend a Fine Gael local election selection convention taking place in the constituency next week, as she had indicated she intends doing.
The Budget – when Ms Creighton abstained on a vote on the reduction in private health insurance relief – turned opinion against her decisively, Mr McCartan said, with members angry with her "disloyalty".
And he said there is a widespread view that the 'Reform Alliance' will evolve into a fully-fledged political party.
"Whatever about the first issue of abortion and the second with the Senate and actively campaigning against the party, but this one on the Budget for many would be the last straw," he said.
"She is going to leave the party. By her own, she has taken this step rather than being forced out of the party. She's trying to portray herself as being forced out of the party but she's not."
Ms Creighton has previously said the Fine Gael leadership was "hostile and aggressive" towards her and it was clear she wasn't wanted.
Mr McCartan added: "I have spoken to members over the weekend to confirm they would feel the same way, that she should do the honourable thing and resign from the party.
"Now, she would argue she still has huge support within the organisation and I would emphatically say that is not the case. I've been speaking to members who are coming along on Thursday and, for most of them, her disloyalty, particularly picking an issue in the Budget and failing to support the Government.
"I feel very sorry for the members. They're the ones who tramped the streets and did the groundwork and they're the ones who feel she has let them down, and I am only giving expression from those sentiments from the members. But I do feel the same way myself."