Update - 9.29am: Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick who resigned from Fine Gael last night has said he will support the Government in the forthcoming budget if he believes it will help the ‘squeezed middle’, writes Elaine Keogh.
Deputy Fitzpatrick said: “I will support the government if I am satisfied the squeezed middle are helped.
“I feel as though the squeezed middle paid a big price during the austerity years. It must be a fair budget and all sections of society must be helped.”
“I met two teachers in my constituency office on Monday. The two wages combined is €65,000. They have no chance of getting on the housing ladder.
“They can’t go on the council list, they are talking about starting a family and they feel as though this government has let them down big time.”
He said he would like the taxation system for the ‘squeezed middle’ to be addressed in the budget.
He said: "People who are homeless must be looked after too but in relation to the squeezed middle, we cannot neglect the people who leave their home every morning at 8 o’clock, returns in the evening at 6 or 7 o’clock, that is paying big money for childcare.
"These are the people being squeezed left, right and centre and they feel as though they have been left behind. They feel as if they go to work, they pay their taxes and there is nobody looking after them."
He also said the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar rang him four or five weeks ago and asked him would he change his mind.
However, he resigned from the party last night and said: “I feel my constituency needs a strong voice in the Dail and the only way to do that is to have somebody as an independent.”
He is not taking being re-elected for granted at the next general election and said in the meantime “I hope to contribute a lot more over the remainder of this Dáil”.
Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick has attacked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for isolating him since becoming leader in his resignation statement from Fine Gael.
In statements released on Monday, Mr Fitzpatrick’s departure, which was not unexpected, was confirmed.
Mr Varadkar has expressed his sorrow at the decision of Mr Fitzpatrick who has resigned from the party.
In his statement, Mr Fitzpatrick made a direct attack on Mr Varadkar for not supporting him properly since becoming Taoiseach.
As a result of his resignation, the stability of the minority government has been thrown into question as Mr Fitzpatrick’s support can no longer be guaranteed.
In his statement, Mr Fitzpatrick said he did not feel sufficiently supported by his party colleagues over the past 15 months.
On Twitter, he wrote: “The decision to resign from Fine Gael was a difficult decision to make.
“I have given 100% commitment during my time as a member of the party and have always been a team player. I backed the party when some very difficult decision had to be taken, even when I did not agree with the party I always supported them.
“Unfortunately, over the past 15 months I have not been given the same support from Fine Gael as I had given them. My views were not always listened to and I felt isolated within the party itself,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
Press release pic.twitter.com/7NEIZ0ZKXo— Peter Fitzpatrick (@PFitzpatrickTD) October 1, 2018
In response, Mr Varadkar said: “I am sorry to hear that Peter Fitzpatrick TD has decided to resign from the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party. I know that he has been unhappy for some time and was a strong opponent of holding a referendum on the Eighth Amendment.”
“I spoke to Peter a few weeks ago when he decided not to seek a nomination to contest the next General Election as a Fine Gael candidate. At the time, he confirmed that he would continue to sit, act and vote as a Fine Gael TD until the end of his mandate. I regret that he has since changed his mind.”
“Fine Gael is confident that it will retain its two seats in the Louth constituency. Cllr John McGahon has been selected to run alongside Fergus O’Dowd TD,” the Taoiseach said.
Last week, Mr Fitzpatrick’s unhappiness surfaced as did his intention to resign the whip. A staunch pro-life TD, Mr Fitzpatrick took an alternative stance to the abortion referendum from the party leadership.
He was one of three TDs who sat on the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment to produce a minority report from the rest of the members who recommended a liberalisation of the country’s abortion laws.
The country subsequently passed by overwhelming majority in a referendum in May their proposals.
Born in May 1962, Mr Fitzpatrick was first elected to the Dáil in 2011. He is a former manager of the Louth GAA football team.