Tuesday 22 August 2017

With all the hot air, Labour will soon run out of breath

Fianna Fail Leader Michael Martin TD pictured with new party member Meath County Council member Jenny McHugh
Fianna Fail Leader Michael Martin TD pictured with new party member Meath County Council member Jenny McHugh

MAYBE some of it is down to the muggy weather. The 'rhetoricometer' is doing handstands and those Budget kites are climbing ever higher in the sky – and it's still only July. Could any of this be linked to Labour's ongoing tale of woe?

For the past two days, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has been very publicly declaring that she will not cut €440m off the social welfare payments in the forthcoming Budget, due to be unveiled on October 15. The Labour Party deputy leader is happy to be clashing publicly with Fine Gael.

But there are, of course, ongoing tensions within Labour with the cabinet ministers getting it in the neck from all sides – not least from their own members and activists looking fretfully at next summer's local and European Parliament elections. There is a clue in the job title of Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, whose job it is to cut the €1bn borrowed every month to fund services. Sometimes one has to struggle to remember that Mr Howlin is a party and cabinet colleague of Ms Burton's.

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