TD Anne Ferris’s party future was under threat for a fortnight

Wicklow TD and Labour parliamentary vice-chair Anne Ferris’s party future was under threat since her decision two weeks ago — based on heartbreaking personal experience — to rebel against the Government’s redress scheme for women held in mother and baby homes.

TD Anne Ferris’s party future was under threat for a fortnight

The move, and her clear call for Labour leaders to allow a free vote on Clare Daly’s bill on fatal foetal abnormalities last night, made it almost inevitable that Ms Ferris would lose the party whip and be expelled from the parliamentary Labour party.

Ms Ferris, 60, is Labour’s only elected representative in Wicklow after last May’s local election left support decimated, making her crucial to the party’s strategy in the county.

She entered the Dáil at the first attempt after the 2011 general election and is currently the Oireachtas justice committee’s vice-chair.

A member of Siptu, she was appointed Labour’s parliamentary party vice-chair last September, and previously served on Bray Town Council and Wicklow County Council.

Ms Ferris, who holds a diploma in women’s studies from St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, has a long track-record of speaking out in defence of vulnerable women’s rights.

This comes in part from being both an adopted person and a natural mother whose own child was taken from her as part of the mother and baby homes scandal.

Ms Ferris most recently raised the issue — which has also affected other Government TDs — during the Dáil debate on a redress bill for women a fortnight ago.

During the debate, Ms Ferris explained that she could not support the bill as it fell short of what is needed and because her baby girl was “taken from me”.

While Labour leaders chose not to remove her from the parliamentary party on that occasion, last night’s contradiction of her own party’s official stance for the second time in a fortnight meant they had little other option.

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