Westmeath TD Willie Penrose, who quit Labour two years ago over the closure of Columb Barracks in Mullingar, is set to rejoin its parliamentary party this week.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said he welcomed Mr Penrose’s decision to rejoin the parliamentary party, and he looked forward to having the benefit of his energy and enthusiasm as a colleague and a friend.
The Ballynacargy politician and barrister lost the party whip when he challenged the Government’s decision to shut down Columb Barracks, which closed its doors at the end of March 2012.
Earlier this year he confirmed he was planning a return to being a fully-fledged member of the party.
“I have been out of the Parliamentary Party for the past 15 or 16 months. I made my stand and now I feel it is better to be inside the tent,” he stated at the time.
Speaking to the Irish Independent this week, he said: “I’ve done my protest. I was annoyed at the party but I never fell out with them and I have always been loyal to the ethos and philosophy of Labour.”
He also attacked those who were criticising Labour from the sidelines.
“I’m sick to the teeth of a lot of people who wouldn’t get elected to a sheep-dipping committee who are always advising. We’re in the recovery phase now and I’d like to contribute my tuppence ha’penny worth as well,” he said.
Deputy Penrose topped the poll in the Longford/Westmeath constituency in the 2007 and 2011 general elections.
His decision to rejoin Labour comes as a boost for the party after an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll last week found that its support had fallen to 6%, which was its lowest level since 1987.
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