TD Peter Mathews has confirmed that he has resigned from the Fine Gael party.

He told RTÉ News that he handed in a letter of resignation to the Taoiseach's office shortly before 7am this morning.

Mr Mathews said he took the decision to leave the party as the leadership of Fine Gael placed him in an impossible position by expelling him from the parliamentary party over his stance on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill during the summer.

He said that he saw no sign of regret from the leadership over the action taken against him.

In a statement he said: "I look forward to serving the remainder of the 31st Dáil, as an Independent TD recognising mutual advantages of contributing to and sharing ideas etc within a flexible and collegial 'Reform Alliance' of members of both houses of the Oireachtas."

Mr Mathews said he came to an understanding with a "senior official" in Fine Gael prior to becoming a member that he had reserved the right to vote against the party over issues of conscience.

Speaking to RTÉ News, he said this understanding was a core reason behind his decision to join the party before the last General Election and it was also a factor in his decision to leave the party.

"I specifically mentioned, in areas of morals and ethics... I reserve the right to follow my conscience", he said.

"I said I was joining the party as a candidate on that basis".

Pressed to reveal who he came to that arrangement with, Mr Mathews said it was with "senior people in the (Fine Gael) Mount Street head office".

He said it was a private matter and declined to identify the person or persons with whom the alleged arrangement was reached.

"I don't sign blank cheques in financial terms," he said, and similarly he said he "didn't sign-off on any blind political loyalty to some areas that might be more important to life and death".