Monday 5 December 2016

Labour did more than 50pc of the work in coalition, insists Burton

Alan O'Keeffe and Niall O'Connor

Published 18/07/2015 | 02:30

Joan Burton
Joan Burton

Labour leader Joan Burton insists that it contributed "far more than 50pc of the work" in coalition, as frustrations grow about the party's poor showing in the polls.

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But she insisted her party is prepared for a "battle" ahead of the upcoming general election.

The Tánaiste said it is routine for the minor partner in a coalition to suffer in opinion polls.

Ms Burton made the remarks after her predecessor, Eamon Gilmore, said Labour has been unfairly punished by voters.

Deputy Gilmore, stepping down after three decades as a​ constituency TD, said the junior coalition partner​ has got a "disproportionate share of the blame" for unpopular decisions made in government.

"​And w​e haven't got the credit for what has been an extraordinary economic recovery," he said at a selection convention on Thursday night.

Yesterday, Ms Burton said Labour is close to finalising its ticket of candidates ahead of the election, and rejected claims the party will be wiped out.

"Labour has a third of the membership of the coalition but we've certainly contributed far more than 50pc of the work," Ms Burton said.

"So, in that sense, let's hope that Eamon's prediction on that will be that people will recognise the genuine work under difficult circumstances for people in Ireland who found themselves in a very, very difficult place."

Asked about Fine Gael getting the credit for the upturn in the economy, Ms Burton said it is "inevitably" what happens when there is a bigger partner in government.

Canvassing

"I think inevitably, in any government, when you have two partners and one is bigger than the other," she said.

"I think, come the election, just getting out there and canvassing and campaigning. We've almost completed now.

"We are more than half way through the selection of our candidates and we have conventions lined up over the next two weeks and we expect to have the majority of our conventions before the end of September," she said. "We have very enthusiastic candidates on the ground. Our general election preparations are heavily advanced.

"When we meet in September, we'll be looking in more detail and talking in detail with the parliamentary party and preparing for the election. It will be a battle but Labour people are well used to a battle and we're up for it."

Fragmented

Earlier, she hit out at the fragmented opposition. "As the election draws closer, people will begin to focus on the make-up of the current Dáil. Very strong numbers of smaller parties and a very significant number of Independents."

She added: "But if you went through those groups, Sinn Féin said they are not going with anybody. Fianna Fáil has kind of suggested they are not going with Fine Gael anyway.

"And the various independent groups seem to be, most of them, are three to seven people. The latest one launched has three leaders."

But Ms Burton said she believes people will elect a government that provides stability.

People will want a government that is stable, sustainable and a government which has a track record of inheriting a difficult economic situation, getting the country back to work and actually building a future for the country.

"The Labour Party and Fine Gael, both of us, have played key roles in that."

Irish Independent

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