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Statement from Colm Keaveney December 13, 2012

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Uncategorized.

Since the first leaks emerged on Budget 2013 I have had deep misgivings on aspects of the Budget in relation to the changes to PRSI, to child benefit, to respite grants and to the overall regressive nature of the budget in terms of income.

Since Monday of last week I have been working to overturn the more odious aspects of this budget. I voted for the measures on the night of the budget in order to allow time myself and other deputies to campaign for the reversal or amelioration of these measures. Even last night I voted for the Second Stage of the Social Welfare Bill in order to allow for an opportunity for an eleventh hour change to be made. I and the other deputies have been unsuccessful in that regard.

Therefore, I have this afternoon voted against the Bill. I could not for reasons of conscience, or on the basis of the mandate that I received from my constituents in Galway East, vote for the measures in this Bill. I simply cannot vote in favour of measures that will have such a negative effect on working families, particularly given the regressive nature of the hits proposed.

I wish my colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party well. They are the finest group of people that I have had the honour to work with. It is unfortunate that we found ourselves sharing Government with a Party whose values see an equivalence in seeking to cut welfare to the most vulnerable in our society with a measure to increase the tax paid by those on high incomes. The progressive section of Fine Gael, prevalent to an extent in the FitzGerald era, is now almost entirely absent and that party now seeks to become an Irish Tory Party.

I remain loyal to the Labour Party and to its values and the values of its membership. I am proud of all that the party has achieved throughout their 100 year existence and I will remain a member of the party and continue to work on its behalf.

..and Gilmore

I welcome the passage of the Social Welfare Bill, and I wish to thank all of the Labour TDs and Senators for their support.

Labour went into Government in March 2011, because our country was in trouble, and we wanted to fix it.

Ireland and the Irish people were then, and still are, facing the worst crisis in the history of our state, with enormous human costs. As a country we have lost control of our destiny, and we need to restore it.

The people gave us a mandate to do what it takes to fix this mess. And they wanted us to do it in a way that balanced that absolute need to secure the path ahead of us, with fairness.

I believed then, and I believe now, that Labour’s mission in Government is to fix the problem and to restore the sovereignty of our republic. To fulfil, once more, that which is set out in Article 1 of our Constitution: the right of our nation to choose its own path.

We are here for the men and women who are out of work. People who have lost their livelihoods. People who have been forced to leave their families behind, and emigrate. We are here for every single person who is fearful about their future in an Ireland that is still clawing its way out of a crisis, which has threatened to cast it back decades.
We are here to secure their future, and the future of our country. And unless we do it, the opportunities for work, the opportunities that we, as a party, promote through public services, will not be there.

Ours is not a narrow interest. We are not a single issue party. We will be judged according to what we do with the responsibility that the people have given us. And that is not a responsibility that is confined to single budget measures. It is a responsibility to serve the interests of our people, not just for this week, but for this generation.

We went into Government with our eyes open, knowing there would be difficult decisions and difficult days. Today was one of those days. The social welfare bill contained several difficult provisions. But there were many other provisions that it didn’t contain – options that were not taken, by a Labour Minister who was determined to make the best and fairest decisions in difficult circumstances.

Our country is caught in the grip of the worst economic, financial and jobs crisis ever seen. Reducing the budget deficit is necessary, because the alternative is unthinkable.

The alternative, is not being able to pay welfare at all, not being able to keep schools and hospitals open, not paying wages or pensions. The alternative is more job losses, and a country sliding further into crisis. The alternative is to go backwards, unwinding the far won progress that we have made.

This budget is difficult, but in the times in which we live, it is a fair budget, and one which in many ways reflects Labour’s core values.

In the century of our history, this is one of the most difficult tasks that Labour has ever taken on. But the essence of the Labour movement is to make the difficult choices. The Labour Party has always stood up to be counted in difficult moments, and done the right thing by the Irish people. Today was one of those days. I am grateful to, and proud of, the Labour Deputies, who had the courage to vote with the Government today.

The responsibility to fix the country exists whether we are in Government or not. We are either shaping the solution, or we are watching it from across the lobby. And whichever we choose, it is from there we’ll be watching the recovery too.



1. Bartley - December 13, 2012

Honestly, what a selfish twit!

As party chairman, he has known from the get-go what Labour`s true purpose in government is … hint: it has nowt to do maintaining social welfare rates.

Now he tries to wrap himself up in principled action, replete with supposedly off-the-cuff Latin tweets no less, in a premature attempt to ensure re-election for himself.

Meanwhile he has dropped his colleagues in it, the dumb eejits loyally following the party line that social welfare must be cut in order to guarantee the future of the CPA.


smiffy - December 13, 2012

If you want to be succeed as a troll, you should try being a little less one-note.


Bartley - December 13, 2012

So you reckon Labour can ensure that some redundant workers continue to receive €120,000 per annum until retirement and also that other redundant workers continue receive €188 per week for just a bare year?

Fraid not, and Labour know that.

After a brief wrestle with their conscience, they`ve decided that the guy surviving on €188 per week really is free-wheeling and needs a kick in the arse to get him back into the workforce, whereas the state could not possibly survive without the likes of Carol Hanney twiddling her expensive thumbs.


WorldbyStorm - December 13, 2012

There’s a fundamental dishonesty in your comment Bartley even beyond its trolling aspects.

You know that those on this site were strongly against the changes in social welfare provision.

You know that a change in the CPA would not result in funding being shifted from one part to another. The Fiscal Council have argued for greater reductions in expenditure and there’s a strong lobby in FG for same.

I’ve said this time and again, I’ve no candle for the PS as such, though I do for workers whether PS or private sector. But in a context where there are no levers being exercised by this government in terms of encouraging growth it seems to me that even the relatively small sums flowing from the retention of wage structures as is is no harm.

Secondly, as was pointed out to you previously, attacks on PS wages and conditions have a negative exemplary effect on the rest of the economy (in the sense of wages and conditions for private sector workers). As a contract worker now and a private sector worker since 1990 prior to that I don’t take that lightly.

But truth is you are just trolling, as your earlier comment about Joan Burton being a ‘committed socialist’ demonstrated, given that there’s not one person commenting or writing on this site who believes she’s any such thing or supports her policies, so even engaging on this level with you is futile.

Really, isn’t it time you gave it a rest. If you want to troll sites that y’know, actually support the LP leadership knock yourself out, but you’re wasting both our time and your own here.


crocodile - December 13, 2012

When Mark Fielding of ISME was challenged on this evening’s ‘Drivetime’ about the logic of small firms’ wanting a cut in public service wages, he was quite explicit and unapologetic on this point: if public servants have good pay and conditions, private sector workers will want them too.


WorldbyStorm - December 13, 2012

That must give the workers in those jobs for those companies in that particular sector a real warm happy feeling coming up to Christmas.


RosencrantzisDead - December 14, 2012

Also, a certain poster is rather conspicuous in their consistent lack of condemnation for Fine Gael. This is rather striking since Fine Gael are claiming the budget is fair and represents a series of mature decisions.


WorldbyStorm - December 14, 2012

Good point. It’s all crocodile tears, it’s just to get a rise. FG supporter, or not, it’s just a ‘let’s take a lash at the leftists’ whether the leftists actually y’know, support the CPA or the LP or whatever.


Tawdy - December 14, 2012

With you on ever word of that!


Bartley - December 14, 2012

You know that a change in the CPA would not result in funding being shifted from one part to another.

The aim has always been to achieve a certain fixed quantum of deficit reduction in each budget, as agreed with the Troika. Clearly taxing in one area allows cutting less in another. So why wouldn`t saving some expenditure here not allow cutting less over there?

Surely you`re not arguing that the social fund is somehow ring-fenced off as the one-and-only source of welfare spending, so that no savings elsewhere could be set against SW cuts?

as was pointed out to you previously, attacks on PS wages and conditions have a negative exemplary effect on the rest of the economy

And as was pointed out also in that discussion, such exemplary effects are extremely questionable when there is so little mobility between the sectors.

Thinking that keeping redundant CEOs on the state payroll will protect private workers is akin to expecting that high wage levels in the English Premiership somehow create a floor protecting the lads playing League of Ireland football.

That would only be the case if both leagues were busily fishing in the same talent pool, regularly competing for the services of the same players. Which is patently not the case, save a few exceptional cases.

And just to demonstrate how little mobility there is between the private and public sectors …

Consider that in the period 2005-2010, those few exceptional cases who did secure a move from the League of Ireland to English Premiership/Championship clubs actually far exceeded the number of successful private sector applicants to high level civil service jobs.


Ed - December 14, 2012

Sorry Bartley, there was an interesting discussion going on, and you’ve been called up on your tedious, goal-post-moving trolling for the 1000th time, so please, go off and play your games somewhere else, nobody is interested.


WorldbyStorm - December 14, 2012

+1 Ed.


EWI - December 13, 2012

So, Bartley.

You’re asking people to believe that the austerity scolds will pocket slashing the wages and numbers of public sector workers and therefore stop demanding that the poor, the old and the sick all have ‘pain’ inflicted on them (because God knows being any of the three reflects a moral failing, if you believe IBEC and their groupies). Really, you expect us to swallow this nonsense?


2. Ivorthorne - December 13, 2012

Fair play to Keaveney.


RosencrantzisDead - December 13, 2012

Anyone knoe if there is a precedent for a party chair (or equivalent thereof) losing the party whip?


doctorfive - December 13, 2012

“Not tenable” says Eamon Gilmore.


WorldbyStorm - December 13, 2012

“Mr Keaveney said that that he will remain as Chairman of the Labour Party and was “pretty comfortable” in the knowledge that the previous Labour chair was not a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

Who was that again?


doctorfive - December 13, 2012

He didn’t break the whip


smiffy - December 13, 2012

Previous Chair was Brian O’Shea (who also lost to Keaveney when running to retain the position).


3. paul - December 13, 2012

Interestingly, in Gilmores statement, there is no reference to the troika or to bank debt.

I can accept the loigic that labour can do more in government than out of it. Amd I accept that the world is not always as we would like it to be and that we will often be forced into unpalatable action by those more powerful than us.

We are reducing the deficit too fast, and our debt burden is twice what its should be because of bank debt. Is that position not even worth mentioning in Labour circles?

But Gilmore’s rhetoric suggests that he fully endorses the troika programme, that he believes that it is the only responsible path available. That is an extraordinary position.

Joan Burton earlier today was talking about how she hoped we could replace the PNs with long-term bonds. She made no reference at all to the rest of the bank debt. Is that now the extent of our hopes? Not after a long and hard fought battle for justice, but in fact without even the semblence of a negotiation.

And what is their vision? They tell us its to get the country back on its feet. Is that all? No vision of a better society, or a fairer one?

I am not far-left. I am what would once have been a mainstream european social democrat. But that tradition is now unrepresented.

Its just all too depressing.


WorldbyStorm - December 13, 2012

“But that tradition is now unrepresented. ”



sonofstan - December 14, 2012



gabbagabbahey - December 13, 2012

I’d be in the same boat as paul. I felt uneasy at a lot of the criticism of Labour around the Clare Daly bill and even some of the budget, because what can they do when FG are so large (and in the abortion issue, have FF to back up their conservative stance)? amongst not hugely-politically-engaged people of my generation there’s a lot of outrage at broadly progressive parties not living up to principled commitments that, while perhaps they could make a better show of defending, would never be implemented while the majority of Irish people vote conservative (leaving supporters to argue that various minor victories are significant and/or sufficient achievements). what befell the Greens will in turn befall Labour, and then to Sinn Féin whenever they get the opportunity to sit in government. it is depressing, and the only alternative seems to be to vote for the ULA as a permanent opposition (or a perhaps temporary, fragmenting alliance as a permanent bloc?) which for various reasons I’m not enamoured of as an option, even though it’s probably the choice of most people commenting here, and I can respect their views.


WorldbyStorm - December 14, 2012

That point you make about a ‘permanent opposition’ really resonates with me and I’d have much the same criticism of the idea, because that seems to me to be the most probable fate of much of the left in the contemporary period.

Actually approaches to voting left for people would make an interesting post.


gabbagabbahey - December 14, 2012

All I know is that in my current constituency I have the choice between Gilmore and RBB, who seem emblematic of the two choices between permanent acquiescence and opposition…


4. greengoddess2 - December 13, 2012

We need proper ideologies here. Alliance of left etc.


Ivorthorne - December 14, 2012

Something like a united left alliance? 😉


5. CL - December 14, 2012

HSBC has been fined $2bn (€1.5bn) for many money laundering offences committed while two of the most senior figures now tasked with cleaning up the Irish financial system were top executives at Europe’s biggest bank….Former HSBC chief executive Michael Geoghegan, who is Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s top advisor on NAMA, was the most senior executive at HSBC for much of the period investigated by the US authorities.
Perhaps Mr. Geoghegan’s financial cleansing skills can be used to clean up the promissory note mess which involves the annual incineration of 3.1bn Euro by the ECB paid to it by the Irish people.


6. Jim Monaghan - December 14, 2012

This government is rotting by the week. Keaveney didn’t even give some of his colleagues a chance to follow him, leaving it to the last moment.
I would lay a bet of an election some time next year.Expect Labour to lose heavily, FF to regain a lot of lost ground, SF to grow, far left to stay the same (if lucky) and an array of independents.


7. sonofstan - December 14, 2012

Interestingly venomous responses from Gilmore and Rabbitte to CK’s departure – no pro forma tributes to his integrity or his gifts, no expressions of regret. Compare and contrast with the crocodile tears over Shortall and the virtual ovation for Willie Penrose.

Keaveney can do a lot of damage and he knows it. He can’t be forced to resign as party chairman, and won’t, unless the party conference votes him out, which means if the leadership put up a candidate against him, it becomes a referendum on the leader himself.

From his interview on VB last night, he has no interest in working outside Labour, nor would he want the LP to walk out of government. Hard not to see the resignation from the PLP as tactical and part of a long game, probably involving others in the party, who will continue the battle on other fronts.


Joe - December 14, 2012

Good synopsis, SoS.
Keaveney is showing himself to be a canny political operator. Won the chairmanship despite Gilmore and the leadership making it clear they didn’t want him. Now he has Gilmore clearly rattled – and I have to say I enjoy seeing that.

And your last paragraph rings true. This chappie has a long game. Will be interesting to see how many chums he has.

He’s minding his seat of course – on the radio this morning I heard someone say that, after this bit of publicity, his chances of re-election next time have risen from slim to sporting.

Finally, the chances of Labour being slightly more left-wing if Keaveney eventually wins his long game? Nil. Him and his party chums (if he has any) are just a different bunch of useless liberals than the bunch currently in charge. (Where’s Mark P these days?)


Mark P - December 14, 2012

No need for me to stick my oar in Joe, with you doing such sterling work on my behalf.

Keaveney is indeed a “canny political operator”. He’s voted for every previous cut without a flinch, but he has a seriously endangered seat to protect. There will be more and more of these rebels as time goes on. And each successive one has less credibility than the last, as they pile up a longer voting record as part of the most right wing government since the 20s.

(Penrose is an anomaly in that regard. Despite being one of the earliest jumpers, he still has no credibility).

While I don’t have the slightest inclination to think that Keaveney is a principled left winger, I do however welcome his decision. Anything that weakens the government and Labour as the weaker part of that government is to be welcomed. I’m even amused by his decision to stay as Labour Chair. The more hassle and strife and feuding and bickering he causes the better.


smiffy - December 14, 2012

Interesting that they suggest that it’s not tenable for him to continue to Party Chair, as he’s no longer a member of the Parliamentary Party. Would the same principle have applied in Brian O’Shea had won the election in April?


8. Tawdy - December 14, 2012

I take the point about the long game. Has it not been said before that a week is a long time in politics. Where is the Campaign for Labour Policise on this?


9. Tawdy - December 14, 2012

I take the point about the long game. Has it not been said before that a week is a long time in politics. Where is the Campaign for Labour Policies on this?


10. CL - December 14, 2012

Social democracy is dead and gone; its with____in the grave.
(Cant’ think of what name to put in that space)


Michael Carley - December 14, 2012

Frank Cluskey? Jim Kemmy?


11. clp - December 14, 2012
12. steve white - December 15, 2012

those we criticsed most for the boom and bust were members of previous cabinets, but we also cricitised members of FF who didn’t call out the problems and thought their only job was keep their constituency happy, now keaveney has spoken up many times on broad economic issue but has said he voted against the budget because of his constituency commitments, although he criticesed the secrecy of the economic cabinet, used respite as the issue to go on, bit of a confusing message epsecially after writing this
Austerity is not a Political Value http://www.colmkeaveney.ie/blog/?p=78
clearly he can’t make excuse for fine gael anymore, does he see like the greens saw it that they are in ministries not in government and that why its about social welfare?


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