Thursday 14 December 2017

'Greatest damage was inflicted from within the party...'

Former junior minister for Health Roisin Shortall
Former junior minister for Health Roisin Shortall

When the going got tough it was disaffected TDs and Labour members who caused the leadership the most consternation and pain...

'We expected, and could handle, the criticism from opponents, but the opposition and attacks from within the party itself were more difficult.

Deputy Tommy Broughan had lost the Labour Party whip while we were still in opposition, so it was no surprise that he would do so again in government. Joan Burton cautioned me before Patrick Nulty's selection as the by-election candidate in her constituency that he would not last the course, and just six weeks after his election, he voted against the Budget.

Róisín Shortall announced her resignation as a Junior Minister and as a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party in September 2012. Deputy Colm Keaveney, after losing the whip, insisted on remaining as chairperson of the party and promoted himself as the conscience of the rank-and-file membership of Labour before leaving to join Fianna Fáil.

All four of these used their departure, and several opportunities afterwards, to attack the party, in some cases (but not all) with a degree of unnecessary bitterness.

Ultimately, when someone is described for years as a Labour representative, they are seen as Labour for long afterwards. And when they are heard to criticise the party or its leader, that is seen as Labour being criticised by one of its own and it makes a bigger impact. The criticism of Labour, apparently from 'inside', reinforced by disloyal comments from 'unnamed sources' within the party, is what did the greatest damage."

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