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Ó Ríordáin pledges to rebuild Labour on traditional party values as he launches leadership campaign

Labour members will vote on a new leader at the beginning of April.
Feb 21st 2020, 1:27 PM 11,762 33

005Aodhan O Riordain Labour Aodhán Ó Ríordáin speaking at the launch of his campign today Source: Leon Farrell via

AODHÁN Ó RÍORDÁIN has this morning launched his leadership campaign for the Labour Party. 

The vacancy in the party leadership has come about after Brendan Howlin announced last week he was stepping down following the party’s failure to make gains in the general election.  

Launching his campaign today in the community hall in Dublin’s Sheriff Street, Ó Ríordáin, a TD for Dublin Bay North, pledged to rebuild his party on the basis of traditional Labour values. 

He said there was a need to focus on what Labour can deliver in the future, and to return to being the “campaigning heart of Irish politics”.

“We’ve had many setbacks in our long history, which have often led to calls to go ‘back to basics’. But, while we’re proud of our roots, we cannot afford to look backwards. We have to grow and develop if we’re to win back trust and confidence to be relevant into the future,” Ó Ríordáin said. 

He said his leadership would deliver: 

  • A bold policy agenda, including an end to failed market-driven policies for health, housing and childcare, and a series of ‘people’s budgets’ that go beyond economic performance to deliver sustainable economic equality.
  • A campaigning party that would listen and campaign with communities in towns, villages, and workplaces across Ireland.
  • A fit-for-purpose party organisation with the highest possible standards of professionalism, effectiveness, and accountability.

“As Labour leader, I will legislate to enshrine in law the right for all workers to be represented by a union for the purpose of collective bargaining,” Ó Riórdáin said. 

“If this is deemed unconstitutional, either by the Attorney General or the Supreme Court, we will build a movement in support of a referendum to give the people the right to be represented by a trade union,” he said. 

“This will demand hard work and courage, just like when we achieved marriage equality and repealed the eighth amendment. Labour will lead the argument with our colleagues in the trade union movement and we will win.” 

Ó Ríordáin was a junior minister during the Fine Gael-Labour government of the previous decade and held briefs including equality and drugs policy. 

Alan Kelly

Alan Kelly launched a leadership campaign earlier this week and Louth TD Ged Nash announced he will not be contesting the Labour leadership contest. 

During his campaign launch earlier this week, Kelly said it was time for the Labour Party to “go back to basics”.

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4180 Alan Kelly Alan Kelly launching his campaign in Dublin earlier this week Source: Leah Farrell via

Kelly, a former Cabinet minister under the Fine Gael-Labour coalition from 2011, was most recently the party’s health spokesperson and was prominent in the last Dáil for his support of the victims of the CervicalCheck scandal.

“The party was founded to advance the interest of workers. Now it is time to go back to basics,” the Tipperary TD said. 

“We must rebuild our party, take it back to the grassroots, cover every corner of the country in doing so and regenerate the trust we had with the people of Ireland that, no matter what, Labour puts the people first,” he said.

“There is a hard road ahead and it will take time, but the rebuilding of the party must revolve around putting workers and their families at the centre of political discourse.”

Labour members will vote on a new leader at the beginning of April.

With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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