Wednesday 28 September 2016

Losing heavy-hitters and stuck in the polls, Burton needs a boost

Published 11/07/2015 | 02:30

Joan Burton
Joan Burton

The departures were no surprise to anyone in or near Leinster House. It's just that they come at a time of ongoing difficulty for Joan Burton's Labour. The party could be as low as 6pc, or at best at something around 10pc.

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This week three stalwarts headed for the exit: party chairman Jack Wall, who turned 70 at the start of the month; former leader Pat Rabbitte who is 66; and Seán Kenny who is 73. Nobody could accuse them of quitting early.

Of the three, Jack Wall is the biggest loss, as his quiet and decent demeanour belied his ability to keep a lid on things in the parliamentary party as times got rocky.

The party deserves credit for standing its ground on tricky changes to the lone parent support regime as welfare reforms to promote work involve some tough elements.

They were hit by "noises off" from, of all people, the chief whip Emmet Stagg, who condemned the changes in a letter to a constituent. A bit tricky that, when you consider that not only did he vote for the changes, he helped oblige colleagues to do the same.

But at the same time Joan Burton and her party colleagues are soldiering on. Yesterday this paper brought details of a Government plan to improve childcare with working parents pledged six months' paid leave between them in the first year of the child's life.

The plan is replete with potential. But the questions remain: will the voters listen? Will the electorate belatedly come round?

Irish Independent

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