Cllr Dermot Looney, a Labour Party representative on South Dublin County Council, has said that he will oppose the Labour Party’s entry into government with Fine Gael at Labour’s Special Delegate Conference this Sunday. Looney said that, far from being ‘balanced,’ as has been claimed, Fine Gael would outnumber Labour in any such arrangement by 2 to 1, with a resultant policy bias towards Fine Gael’s plans for cuts, conservatism and privatisation.
“Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the party as a whole, Labour has emerged from this general election out on its own in second place;” noted Looney, “an historic achievement for a party which has always played third fiddle in Irish politics. Fine Gael, meanwhile, has been given the lead position but does not have a mandate to govern on its own.”
“Fine Gael have a number of options at this point, including seeking the support of independents or coalescing with their centre-right colleagues in Fianna Fáil with whom there are few major differences. Labour members have just one choice – whether to lead the opposition to a government of cuts and austerity, or to join with it as a minor partner.”
“Having spoken to many Labour members and voters from all sorts of backgrounds during this campaign and in its aftermath, I believe there is substantial opposition to a Fine Gael-dominated government from the grassroots of the Labour Party and from ordinary communities across Ireland. Such a government would be unbalanced and short-sighted.”
“It is clear that a deal is not in the interests of the Labour Party, its voters or the values we have carried since the party was founded by James Connolly 99 years ago. But, more importantly, this coalition would not be in the national interest.”
“The interests of the Irish people are not served by the Labour Party fighting for scraps from a Fine Gael menu of cuts and social conservatism. The national interest will be best served by the strongest ever Labour Parliamentary Party acting as a powerful and constructive opposition in the upcoming Dáil, and seeking to lead the next government not only in terms of numbers, but of policy.”
“Labour has the best potential Ministers in Dáil Éireann but I want to see them in Government implementing Labour policies, not Fine Gael ones.”
“Coalition between an emboldened Fine Gael and a numerically far inferior Labour Party will be bad for Ireland and bad for Labour. I will be asking Labour members to vote against the deal on Sunday and, regardless of the outcome, will seek to play a constructive but principled role in the party in the time ahead.”