THE LABOUR PARTY has been dealt a blow with the news that yet another councillor has left the fold – this time to join Sinn Féin.
Chair of Athy Town Council Tom Redmond has announced that he has resigned from Labour and joined Sinn Féin. His profile is no longer on the Labour website, and Cllr Redmond told TheJournal.ie that he officially joined Sinn Féin on Saturday.
Though he has been a member of the Labour Party since 2003, and was elected as a councillor in Athy in 2009, Redmond said that he had been struggling with his feelings about Labour since March of this year.
“It was a very big decision – it was something I haven’t taken lightly,” he said. “The last number of months I had to really question my membership of that party.”
He said that the only viable option for him was to join a “forward-thinking Republican party like Sinn Féin”.
He becomes one of more than a dozen local councillors to have left the Labour Party since it went into coalition with Fine Gael, in addition to five TDs and one MEP.
The married father-of-three said that his issues with the party stemmed from the promises made by Labour in its Programme for Government, and “the lies, the broken promises”.
He said these include increasing tax burdens, the property tax, and water charges that have been introduced since Labour came into power.
“They don’t seem to be able to fight them,” he said. “Or willing to fight them.”
He said that Labour are not addressing issues on the ground such as some parents being unable to feed or clothe their children, which he knows is occurring in his own town.
Cllr Redmond said he has written to the Labour party leader Eamon Gilmore, and has spoken to TDs on the issue. However, he had not spoken to his Labour colleagues on Athy Town Council about his decision, and said that they had last met in March for a branch meeting.
Regarding Minister Pat Rabbitte’s comment on the breaking of election promises earlier this year, Redmond said “that was an extremely poor day for being a member of the Labour Party”.
Speaking of Labour Party members, he said that “some people on the top want to hold on to all the power and while they have gone forward they haven’t brought the party with them. They don’t remember the grassroots.”
Asked if other councillors were contemplating leaving the Labour Party, Redmond said: “I have been contacted by three or four other Labour Party councillors in the country” who have “told me they are on wobbly legs at the moment”.
His fellow Labour Party colleagues in Athy are “very upset and shocked” at his decision, but Redmond said that he has a conscience and is “doing my best for the people of Athy”. “I think my profile is exemplary,” he said. “I am not going out to promise people things I can’t deliver on.”
The town council chair said he did not join Sinn Féin with the intention of running in the upcoming local elections.
Redmond said he believes he has a lot to offer Sinn Fein, which he joined because it is “grassroots-led”, a party that is “honest” and “follows through with promises they make”.
Redmond said he sees Sinn Féin as “offering credible opposition” and envisages the party in government in the future.