The chairman of the Irish Labour Party, Colm Keaveney, has quit as the party continues to experience a major internal bust-up and a decline in support over its political direction.
The resignation this week is the latest blow to the junior Coalition partners who last week finally saw the resignation of rebellious TD Patrick Nulty. The resignations have come in tandem with a large decline in the party’s popular support, which has recently fallen into single digits.
Mr Keaveney, a Galway East TD, had lost the party whip after clashing with the party leadership last year, but always remained popular with grassroots Labour members who elected him as party chairman. He has opposed Labour’s economic policies as well as some of the reforms in the new abortion legislation.
He accused the Coalition of targeting cuts at those least able to defend themselves.
“I have found that the more I articulate the views of members, or try to facilitate a discussion of real Labour policy, I am seen as a problem, a difficulty, an inconvenience to those who believe they know more and understand more than the people they represent,” he said.
“Unfortunately I can no longer go along with what is increasingly like a political charade. We promise one thing then do another and blame it on someone else.
“The members must accept what they are given and the leadership will tolerate no dissent.”
The Labour leadership welcomed Keaveney’s resignation as it moved to tighten controls on the party membership.
“Since he resigned the whip, he has consistently attacked Labour, thereby betraying the party members who elected him as chair,” said Labour’s Chief Whip, Emmet Stagg.
Last week, two Wicklow councillors quit the party in a move unrelated to Nulty’s or Keaveney’s departure.