Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív will be kicked out of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party if he does not stick to his promise to refrain from campaigning against the fiscal treaty, senior party sources indicated.
His actions will be monitored over the coming weeks amid signs that tensions between him and party leader Micheál Martin are far from over.
After stating on Monday that he had a “monumental decision” to make about his future, the Galway West TD said yesterday that he would be staying in Fianna Fáil.
During a lengthy statement delivered on the plinth of Leinster House, he said he had given “careful consideration” to a letter from the party whip warning him not to publicly air his views against the treaty.
However, he decided “to work for change from within Fianna Fáil”, adding it was “one of the most difficult decisions of my political career”.
The former minister was told by Mr Martin last Tuesday that he could not campaign against the treaty, and disagreement arose over whether he should be banned from media interviews on the issue or just door-to-door canvassing.
Mr Ó Cuív asked for that position to be communicated in writing, but later said the contents of the letter left him with a “stark choice”, leading to speculation he might leave the party.
Yesterday, he said he would “not be making any further pronouncements in the media on the referendum, nor taking part in any further media debate as per the instruction of the leadership of the party”.
Party whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl responded that he welcomed the “clarity” from Mr Ó Cuív, as well as his “determination to play a constructive role in the renewal of the party”.
Sources close to Mr Martin said Mr Ó Cuív’s actions would be monitored to ensure he did not break his pledge. “If he does, he will be gone out of the parliamentary party,” they said.
Mr Ó Cuív said he was not trying to undermine his leader. “If I was trying to mount a leadership challenge, this would be a rather clumsy way of trying to do it,” he said.
However, when asked if a no vote would put Mr Martin’s position in doubt, he said: “We’ll see about that”.
“There is not a person in the parliamentary party that wouldn’t love to be leader of Fianna Fáil.”
Mr Ó Cuív insisted his actions were not aimed at political gain. “There is no more and no less to my stand than what I believe in sincerely.”
He did not discuss his decision to stay in the party with Mr Martin yesterday.
There were discussions with other TDs during the day. Former Fianna Fáil MEP Seán Ó Neachtain, who is from Mr Ó Cuív’s constituency, told RTÉ he should stay within the party.
“I don’t think there’s an ultimatum put to him, and Fianna Fáil now needs to regroup itself and rebuilt itself and it needs Éamon Ó Cuív. So I hope he stays.”
Seamus Walsh, one of three Fianna Fáil councillors to support Mr Ó Cuív’s stand on the treaty, accused Mr Martin of using the issue as “an excuse to demote him from the frontbench and deputy leadership”.
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