Tuesday 20 February 2018

Martin extends warm welcome to 'serious politician' Keaveney

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin welcomes Colm Keaveney to the party
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin welcomes Colm Keaveney to the party

Daniel McConnell Political Correspondent

FIANNA FAIL leader Micheal Martin "warmly welcomed" former Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney into the party, describing him as a "serious politician".

Speaking at a press conference to announce his entry into the party at Leinster House, Mr Keaveney said he was delighted to join a "changed party, which had learned from the mistakes of the past". Mr Keaveney was pressed by reporters about severe criticisms he made about Fianna Fail when he was in Labour, but said the renewal under Mr Martin means those concerns are no longer valid.

"Over the course of the past couple of months, it has become clear, Fianna Fail has changed. The party under the leadership of Micheal Martin has learned from the past," he said.

"I am delighted to have seen a renewal in Fianna Fail, particularly at grassroots level," he added.

Responding to Education Minister Ruairi Quinn's comments that his move was done out of "desperation", Mr Keaveney said he did not want to get involved in "negative politics".

"That is the remit of the Labour Party," he said.

The Fianna Fail leader said Mr Keaveney would "add value" to the party, which had agreed unanimously to accept his application.

"The Fianna Fail parliamentary party has accepted unanimously the application of Colm Keaveney to join the party.

"He has been warmly welcomed. He will add value to the party. He is a serious politician," said Mr Martin.

Mr Keaveney approached Mr Martin about the possibility of joining the party over four weeks ago, and discussions took place between them.

He said he intended to run in the constituency of Galway East at the next election despite its significant boundary change since the 2011 election. He ruled out being a candidate for the European elections, as had been previously suggested.

Mr Martin said he was not nervous about Mr Keaveney joining the party given his track record in making life difficult for Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.

Mr Martin confirmed that Mr Keaveney would be given responsibility for the "area of special needs, all aspects of special needs, including mental health".

Mr Keaveney said he found the experience outside of a major party "lonely".

"I was lonely in independence, I don't believe it works in politics and I have gravitated towards Fianna Fail because I believe they are the party of fairness in this parliament. It is an honour to be unanimously accepted by the party," he added.

Irish Independent

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