LIMERICK senator James Heffernan has resigned the Labour Party whip after voting against aspects of the Social Welfare Bill.
In a statement, issued ahead of this afternoon’s Seanad debate, Mr Heffernan, who was appointed the Seanad last year, said he could not support aspects of the bill, which were announced in Budget 2013.
“I have made the decision not to support some of the provisions that are contained in this Bill. It was my gut feeling that some of them, by that I mean the cuts in Child Benefit and this one on Respite Care are just wrong,” he said.
Mr Heffernan said he believes some of the measures contained in the Social Welfare bill are a breach of promises made by the Labour Party:
“A solemn pledge was made not so long ago, as I was going door to door in Kilfinane, Kilmallock, Bruff and all the other towns and villages in Limerick, by my party that we would not cut child benefit. That pledge is now broken, and in good conscience I cannot be Party
Mr Heffernan added that he was aware of the political consequences when he made his decision.
“This is not a decision that I take lightly I won’t say that it is an easy one. I respect the Ministers Reform agenda and wish you well in all that you are doing in a very difficult job. I have consulted widely on this decision, both within my constituency and community and the broader Labour Family. Ultimately it’s my own. I don’t fly any ‘flag of convenience’ and I must say that I have the utmost respect for my Seanad colleagues and all my colleagues in the Labour Party. What I ask is that my decision is also respected”.
For more, see this weekend’s Limerick Leader print edition.