Labour’s opponents offer grim prognosis for party

Dublin’s Liberties has always boasted a rich history of trade and skill-based labour. Many street names in the area serve as a reminder of such a traditional past, with Cook Street, Winetavern Street and Fishamble Street being some of the more recognisable nods to this retail hub of old.


The evolution of such trades brought with it trade unions to represent workers on a large scale and, at a political level, the Labour party was founded in 1912 as a branch of the Irish Trade Union Congress.


In recent years, the Labour Party has suffered a barrage of criticism from opposition parties. Unpopular austerity policies were introduced by the coalition Government and subsequently condemned by the Irish public. The fruition of this criticism and condemnation was conveyed by public opinion polls in The Irish Times, the most recent of which places Labour at a mere 6% support in the current political climate.


Scenes of public anger toward Labour have been commonplace of late, with anti-water charge protests calling for the resignation of party leader Joan Burton. Many heated exchanges have taken place between Minister Burton and protesters through various media. Last November’s events in which Joan Burton was blockaded into her car for several hours by protesters appeared the result of mounting public frustration with the current regime. With so much public anger emanating from every corner of the country, where does the future lie for the party which once claimed to represent the working-class of Ireland?


Sinn Féin Councillor Ray McHugh expressed grim predictions for the future of the Labour Party, saying that “the feeling on the ground is that the party has deserted the Irish people.” Cllr. McHugh said he felt let down by the Labour Party’s recent performance in the Dáil. In an interview, Cllr Mc Hugh said that he had spoken to a large number of people in his local Crumlin/Kimmage constituency who had traditionally favoured Labour for a first or second vote, but would now choose not to vote for them at all, based on their recent performances in power.


The resignation of former Labour leader Eamon Gilmore in May 2014 was triggered by a vote of no confidence by several Labour TDs after disappointing local and European parliamentary election results. This resignation led to questions regarding the stability of the party at a time when many matters of public importance were under the scrutiny of the Dáil, undoubtedly causing a further decrease in support for the party.


Fianna Fáil Councillor Paul McAuliffe said that all political parties had valuable lessons to learn from over-promising in the run up to election time, and that the Labour party were particularly prone to this in the previous election. Continuing, Cllr McAuliffe said that the main requirement sought by the public from a political party is a direct, honest approach, and without that approach, the Labour Party will suffer in the next election.


People Before Profit Councillor Pat Dunne said the Labour Party has completely disconnected itself from its grassroots support and that the party’s foothold is quickly eroding as a result of the austerity measures that have been introduced. Cllr Dunne said that the party has let down a major proportion of its supporters, and that this will affect their support in future elections.


What the public perceive as a trail of broken Labour promises has seen confidence in the party plummet to an all-time low. It would appear that the future of the Labour Party is less than bright at this current point in time.


No Labour party representatives were available to comment at this time.

Joan Burton. Credit: William Murphy Flickr

Joan Burton. Credit: William Murphy Flickr

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