A parliamentary party meeting unanimously agreed to allow Wicklow deputy Anne Ferris to rejoin their ranks after her high-profile decision to defy the Labour whip and vote in favour of opposition attempts to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution which places the life of the mother as equal to the unborn.
The move came on the same day as former Labour minister Róisín Shortall, and former Labour member, independent TD Catherine Murphy, joined forces with Wicklow deputy Stephen Donnelly to launch a new centre-left party called the Social Democrats.
One Labour TD said: “Clearly we need everyone back on board for the election. At 10% in the polls — on a good day — we need to circle the wagons, and bring all the talent back on board that we can.”
The move is likely to encourage Clare TD Michael McNamara in his hopes of being taken back into Labour ranks after voting against Government policy by opposing the sale of the State’s share in Aer Lingus.
Labour leader and Tánaiste Joan Burton said: “It’s really great to have Anne back in the fold.”
Labour chief whip Emmet Stagg said: “Although outside the PLP, Anne has remained a party member and hasn’t voted against us since she lost the whip in February.