Mayor quits Labour over ‘austerity agenda’
THE Mayor of South Dublin has resigned from Labour in what will come as a New Year's blow to the party leadership.
Dermot Looney said that he no longer feels "comfortable" being a Labour councillor and accused the party of abandoning the "most basic principles of social democracy".
Mr Looney, who was elected as mayor of South Dublin in June, will now contest the local elections as an independent in the Templeogue-Terenure ward.
The news will come as a blow to the party leadership given that Mr Looney is one of Labour's youngest councillors.
He told the Irish Independent that he has formally submitted his resignation letter to the general secretary of the party, Ita McAuliffe.
"This was not an easy decision for me but I can longer remain in a party that stands over policies that hurt the most vulnerable," he said.
"I have spoken with many local people who voted for me in 2009, or for Labour in the general election, who feel utterly sickened by Labour's implementation of the austerity agenda. Their views match my own. I stand diametrically opposed to government policy - and by extension that of the Labour Party - in areas as diverse as healthcare, local democracy, housing, state assets and taxation.
"I believe that Labour has abandoned even the most basic of social democratic concerns in Government, and my decision to leave is based as much on the direction in which the party is headed as on its record in Government."
In response to Mr Looney's decision, a Labour spokesman said the party is making "real progress" in government.
"In 2011 the people of Ireland put Labour in govt to fix the country. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but we are making real progress. It's not about those public representatives who have quit the party. It's about those who have had the courage to stick with Labour, despite the fact that some very tough decisions have had to be made. "
More than 25 councillors have now quit Labour since 2011.
Last year, Mr Looney announced that he was taking a €7,000 pay cut and diverting the money in a 'mayor's fund' for South Dublin.
Deputy Mayor and Labour councillor Eamon Tuffy took a €3,000 pay cut. The overall €10,000 sum is currently being diverted to 50 community groups in South Dublin.
A Labour spokesman insisted that the party is making "real progress" in government.
"In 2011 the people of Ireland put Labour in govt to fix the country. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but we are making real progress," he said.
"It's not about those public representatives who have quit the party. It's about those who have had the courage to stick with Labour, despite the fact that some very tough decisions have had to be made."