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Departing Labour councillor criticises 'autocratic' leadership as he resigns from the party

Tallaght councillor Mick Duff criticised the party’s ‘reprehensible’ silence on housing.

Tallaght councillor Mick Duff has quit the Labour party, saying leader Brendan Howlin has failed on housing.
Tallaght councillor Mick Duff has quit the Labour party, saying leader Brendan Howlin has failed on housing.
Image: Courtesy Mick Duff/Facebook

LABOUR COUNCILLOR MICK Duff has resigned from the party saying the appointment of Brendan Howlin as leader has had a “detrimental effect on the morale” of the organisation. 

Duff’s announcement comes just days after fellow south Dublin county councillor Martina Genockey also handed in her notice to the Labour party. 

In an open letter posted to his Facebook page Duff outlines the reasons for his decision, mainly the promotion and leadership of Brendan Howlin. 

Speaking to TheJournal.ie tonight Duff said that Howlin handed over the opposition position in the Dáil to the extreme left: 

To take two and a half years to come out with a policy on homelessness is reprehensible.
We needed a rottweiler in opposition, instead we handed over (the issue) to the extreme left, we should have been that voice.

Duff described Howlin as, “an excellent parliamentarian, a great politician and a great servant to the party”. 

However he said the Labour leader lost the party’s core support, those affected directly by the housing crisis. 

Brendan has failed us on the housing crisis. In his very first speech as leader he talked about Brexit, northern Ireland and business, housing was last. That set the agenda for how the party would handle the crisis. 

Duff has welcomed Labour’s new housing policy document, but said it’s “two-and-a-half-years too late”. 

The discontent amongst party members Duff said comes down to how Brendan Howlin became leader. He was elected to the post by his parliamentary party colleagues, and not what had been the case in the past a full election involving grassroots members. 

In any form of voluntary organisation, you will always have a management team and Labour decided in 2016 it wanted, what I believe is an autocratic system. One leader, one voice.

Duff alleges that, that decision, remains a bone of contention to this day. 

He said he has been astounded at the level of empathy and support he’s received from across the political divide tonight, as he comes to terms with his decision. 

Duff will contest the next local election as an independent candidate. 

Howlin has been under pressure from the wider party including Deputy Alan Kelly for the last number of months, and is facing calls to step aside. Kelly had put himself forward for leadership of the party previously and is expected to contest the position at the next available opportunity. 

TheJournal.ie has contacted Labour for comment. 

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