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Labour needs to assert itself in Coalition, warns MEP

Nessa Childers warned against “arrogance” in a larger coalition party, and said Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were both parties of big business.

Nessa Childers
Nessa Childers
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE LABOUR PARTY needs to assert itself in the coalition with Fine Gael as the very survival of the party is at stake, MEP Nessa Childers has warned.

Childers said both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were parties of big business, with an “attachment” to large corporations. She said Labour needed to guard against an “arrogance” that could develop in larger coalition parties.

The MEP was speaking in advance of the party’s annual conference this weekend, where she said she would raise her concerns if given the opportunity. Childers told TheJournal.ie:

At a national level I can see the difficulties for the Labour Party, and we must assert ourselves. What you would see with a large and a small coalition party is that a certain arrogance can creep into the larger party.

She said there were essential differences between Labour’s approach and that of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

There’s certain type of attachment that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have with large corporations, that Labour don’t have – although we’re not anti-business.

Signs of conflict between the parties had been played out in the media in recent weeks, Childers said.

According to the Irish Independent, Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday urged Cabinet ministers of both parties to dampen down tensions within the Coalition. “I would say to everybody, calm down, we’ve got bigger challenges up ahead,” he said.

His comments came after Fine Gael justice minister Alan Shatter appeared to rebuke his Labour colleague Pat Rabbitte, who had expressed concerns about white collar crime.

Childers said she was particularly concerned that Labour’s voice was not being heard in discussions with the troika, and called for a stronger stance in negotiations.

[I'm concerned that] our voices may not be being heard at a European level. We can’t go on with austerity, I think the economy will eat itself alive. The survival of the country, not only the survival of the Labour party, is at stake.

Childers said as an MEP she was well placed to speak out, as she could not “threaten anybody” in the party’s power structure. “I’d like to think I could contribute by putting my voice out there,” she added.

She said she believed her views would find support among other party members.

More: Shatter admits frustration, but says Anglo probe can’t be rushed>

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Michael Freeman

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