Labour senators delay move to oust party whip

Frustrated Labour senators have parked a controversial move to oust their party whip in the upper house until after the EU treaty referendum.

The move against Senator Susan O’Keeffe has been put on hold until after the crucial May 31 vote following orders from party leader Eamon Gilmore.

The truce agreed will only last until a few days after the vote when disgruntled senators pledge they will kick-start the heave once again against Ms O’Keeffe.

The internal party fight has seen members take sides with or against the former journalist amid claims she is too close to the leadership.

Seanad sources say Mr Gilmore has shut down the internal party rift after “embarrassing” questions where raised which distracted from the treaty campaign.

A source opposed to Ms O’Keeffe’s position, added: “We will be forthright the week after the referendum. It was deemed inappropriate to have bickering and unnecessary distraction in the lead-up to the referendum.

“It seems trivial in the bigger picture. It was a request from on high. It was notified on his [Mr Gilmore’s] behalf that this was inappropriate.

“It was an embarrassing sideshow. It’s all in the melting pot again now. But it will resurface.”

Mr Gilmore came out in defence of his Seanad party whip last week and indicated his support for Ms O’Keeffe. Ms O’Keeffe did not return calls last night.

It is understood that she has the support of a number of female Labour Seanad colleagues, including barrister Ivana Bacik. A number of male senators are thought to be opposed to her.


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