Thursday 29 September 2016

Former Labour minister warns voting pact with Fine Gael is 'fraught with danger'

Sam Griffin and Niall O’Connor

Published 07/09/2015 | 10:45

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton
Tanaiste Joan Burton at the Kelloggs Breakfast Club Awards at Blakestown Community College, Blanchardstown, Dublin this morning. Pic:Mark Condren

A former Labour minister has warned that a voting pact with Fine Gael would be “fraught with danger”.

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Dublin Central TD Joe Costello today said he is concerned the Labour party could be “stampeded” into a pact with Fine Gael prior to the election.

Mr Costello said he communicated his views with party leader Joan Burton earlier today and that he believes such a proposal should be “fully teased out” with members.

“A voting pact would be a new departure, a new policy position and should not therefore be taken by the Labour Party without the fullest consultation,” Mr Costello said.

“Fine Gael has already distanced itself from a future coalition with Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein.  Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail have made similar noises in relation to Fine Gael and to each other.   Labour therefore is in an excellent position to pick up transfers from all of these parties, other smaller parties and independents,” he added.

Mr Costello’s Dáil colleague Dominic Hannigan has also voiced opposition to such an arrangement.

And several party sources say Ms Burton may have moved too early regarding the pact, adding that such a deal should not have been taken until closer to polling day.

Earlier, Tanaiste Joan Burton defended her plans for a vote sharing pact with Fine Gael for the upcoming general election.

The Labour leader is facing mounting unhappiness within her own party over the pact with the coalition partner, with several party TDs public opposing the move.

Ms Burton said the pact would be considered at the party's upcoming think in but would not say if there will be a vote on the issue or if members could be allowed not to promote the pact if put in place.

"We've worked well the two parties in this government in trying and difficult circumstances for people. Why then would we not say to people that if we can bring together and get support from the people that we will look at transferring votes between the two parties?" she said this morning.

"It's not about the actual policy platform, it's about saying after you've finished voting for the candidates in your own party then continue to the other party of government because it has been a government of achievement."

She said such a move 'made sense' and insisted that both parties would run their election campaign in independent platforms.

She added that "in the case of the Labour party it's getting people back to work and it's about rebuilding the economy but it's also about social investment and tax reform".

The Tanaiste said the alternative to the current government was one that would "be dominated by bickering and rowing as to who as it were got the most political spoils".

"I think we have to put people in the country first and that's why as leader of the Labour party we want to see stability, we want  to see security, recovery and renewal and we have the means to do that," she said.

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