Reports of an alleged incident are coming in from County Laois that Labour Senator John Whelan had to be hospitalised after a bar room altercation. The alleged incident took place in a well-known pub in Portlaoise town around 7pm Sunday evening in front of shocked onlookers.
A former journalist, 56 year-old Whelan’s tenure as a Senator has been somewhat controversial. He is a former editor of the Leinster Express newspaper. He joined the Labour Party in 2010 and was selected as the party’s candidate for the Laois–Offaly constituency at the last general election. His selection at convention was highly controversial. The convention ended abruptly and “in total chaos” , when the majority of the 50 or so members, who attended, staged a walkout in protest at what they claimed was “the undemocratic” manner the convention was conducted. A number of members left the Labour Party and joined the Socialist Party and contested the constituency unsuccessfully while a number of others canvassed for the successful Sinn Féin candidate Brian Stanley who won a seat.
To say there has been some disquiet in Laois is an understatement. The recent death of Pat Bowe Labour’s only councillor in Laois or Offaly was also a blow to the local organisation. John Whelan’s parliamentary assistant Lisa Delaney was co-opted to Pat Bowe’s seat.
In recent months, senior Labour people are said to be displeased at Whelan’s numerous op-ed pieces in the Sunday Independent attacking Government policy over a range of issues. My understanding also is that there as been more resignations from members within the Labour Party in Laois recently.
What makes yesterday’s altercation all the more intriguing is that onlookers allege that it was another local Labour Party member involved in the fracas that landed Whelan in hospital requiring treatment for his injuries.
Labour’s stag party strategy of what happens in Laois stays in Laois is obviously not working… Labour Party bigwigs no doubt will be worried at recent events.