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Labour grassroots members oppose coalition with Fine Gael

Labour councillors, the national chair of Labour Youth and the Unite trade union have voiced their opposition to a Labour-Fine Gael coalition – saying the country needs a strong opposition.

Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore.
Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE UNITE TRADE union, two Labour councillors and the national chair of Labour Youth have announced their opposition to Labour entering into a Fine Gael-led coalition.

Labour party councillor Cian O’Callaghan told TheJournal.ie that the formation of such a government would be bad for Labour and bad for the country. “There is a need for a strong opposition to hold the government to account; Fianna Fáil are in a very poor state and not in a position to offer robust opposition”, he said.

The party’s grassroots membership is holding series of meetings over the coming days to discuss the best way forward for Labour, after the party saw a huge surge of support in the voting booths to become the second-largest in the state. O’Callaghan said that the support for Labour had given the party “a mandate to lead the opposition”.

“I don’t agree with Fine Gael’s policies – the continuation of privatising health care, in particular, would be disastrous,” he said. O’Callaghan said that there was significant opposition within the party’s grassroots membership to a coalition led by Fine Gael; he added that the support of the Unite trade union, the second-largest union in the country, was significant.

Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said that the public’s support for the Left in the general election was “fantastic” and that, as a result, there would now be about 60 seats held by left-wing politicians – shared between Labour and independents.

However, Kelly stressed that if Labour were to join forces with Fine Gael, the party’s policies would be suppressed and the opposition would not be strong enough to drive change. “It’s not the best analogy, but the Greens went into government with Fianna Fáil with the best of intentions – and they became part of the problem because they were oppressed by Fianna Fáil.”

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“With Labour on the opposition benches, they can promote the fact that Ireland cannot pay its way out of its economic problems. There has to be a confrontation with the IMF and the EU,” he said, “It would be a better deal for everyone – the working people of Ireland, the unemployed and the poor”.

More: Fine Gael-Labour coalition is not guaranteed >

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