Sunday 17 November 2019

Former TD who left FG over abortion back in party fold

FG return: Terence Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke
FG return: Terence Flanagan. Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Former TD Terence Flanagan, who left Fine Gael over his stance on abortion, has rejoined the party.

Mr Flanagan ran in last year's general election for Renua Ireland but has now formally asked to be allowed back into the Fine Gael fold.

He was one of four TDs, including ex-Renua leader Lucinda Creighton, who controversially quit the party when they voted against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill in 2013.

At the time, Taoiseach Enda Kenny imposed a whip on all TDs despite calls for a free vote. The bill allowed terminations in limited circumstances.

A Fine Gael spokesman confirmed the National Executive has decided to allow Mr Flanagan back into the party.

However, there is no commitment that he will be allowed to run in future elections.

It is anticipated that he will now approach the Arthur Griffith branch in Dublin Bay North for membership.

However, he will face opposition from local activist Stephanie Regan, who replaced him last year.

She said members in the constituency are "dismayed and annoyed" to hear he has been out canvassing for the party "without any consultation with constituency executive or any branch ratification".

"There has been a lot of challenging times in Dublin Bay North and we have really just settled after very contentious post-election issues.

"It is important that members feel consulted and today I am getting a lot of calls asking what is this about," Ms Regan said.

She added that in light of the Citizens' Assembly's decision at the weekend to recommend sweeping changes to abortion laws, "it is difficult to see the rush" in accepting Mr Flanagan back.

Since his departure, Fine Gael has changed its policy and now allows TDs a free vote on the issue of abortion.

Mr Flanagan did not respond to requests for a comment.

Irish Independent

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