FINE Gael has readmitted three senators who were stripped of the party whip over their attendance at the infamous Oireachtas Golf Society in Clifden last August.
ine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer, Paddy Burke and John Cummins were told today they are having the whip restored after they were, in effect, expelled from the parliamentary party last August.
The decision was unanimously approved by the Fine Gael parliamentary party at a meeting this afternoon following a proposal by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
Mr Varadkar told the meeting “nobody should be punished forever” and there was never a right time to do these things.
A Fine Gael spokesperson refused to comment on why the decision was taken on the day of the publication of the landmark Mother and Baby Homes report.
In a statement issued after the motion was passed, Mr Varadkar said: “At the start of a new Oireachtas session I think it is time to readmit Senators Jerry Buttimer, Paddy Burke and John Cummins back into the Parliamentary Party.
“They all acknowledged that what happened at the Oireachtas Golf event should not have happened, apologised, and took responsibility immediately.
“They have been out of the Parliamentary Party for five months and it’s time for them to get back to working with us across the whole range of Oireachtas work, including relating to battling against Covid.”
The three senators were among the nearly 80 people who attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in the Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway, on August 19.
The event is being investigated by gardaí over allegations that it breached Covid-19 public health restrictions.
Being stripped of the party whip has traditionally meant TDs or senators lose entitlements afforded to them as party members, including office space assigned to the party, Dáil or Seanad speaking time and membership of committees.
However, the three senators were appointed as members of Oireachtas committees in September.
Three Fianna Fáil Senators Paul Daly, Aidan Davitt and Niall Blaney were also stripped of their party whip over their attendance at the dinner.
Fianna Fáil confirmed that a proposal to readmit the three Senators to the parliamentary party will be on the agenda for the agreement of members at Wednesday evening’s meeting of the parliamentary party.
Source: Irish News