Sunday 11 December 2016

Labour didn't deserve the kicking it got - and the party will rise again

Tony Heffernan

Published 05/03/2016 | 02:30

There was some criticism of Joan Burton in the first two debates, but she performed strongly in the third and her set piece broadcast interviews were as strong as the much-praised Micheál Martin. Photo: Tom Burke
There was some criticism of Joan Burton in the first two debates, but she performed strongly in the third and her set piece broadcast interviews were as strong as the much-praised Micheál Martin. Photo: Tom Burke

When members of the Labour Party assembled at a conference in the O'Reilly Hall in UCD on Sunday, March 6, 2011, in the aftermath of the party's most successful general election in its history, every delegate knew that a decision to enter government with Fine Gael would inevitably lead to a loss of seats at the next general election.

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However, few could have anticipated quite the level of electoral carnage that Labour would face. There is no way of describing the result as anything other than a disaster for the Labour Party. The party has seen the loss of seats of some of its key personnel - government ministers and senior TDs (many of whom have given a lifetime of service to the constituents), and most of its women deputies. Even more worryingly, it saw the virtual elimination of the corps of young Labour TDs elected for the first time in 2011.

There are no silver linings in this result. Only the remarkable comeback of Willie Penrose in Longford/Westmeath was capable of raising even a mild cheer among members during the past week.

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