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Wednesday 21 March 2018

Cuts must be explained to public better, say Labour TDs

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

LABOUR TDs are set to demand a better communications strategy to justify Budget cutbacks at a specially arranged policy meeting tomorrow.

There are concerns among TDs that the party is failing to provide the public with a clear "narrative" about why tough decisions are being taken -- and that this will threaten their prospects of getting re-elected.

The meeting will allow TDs to assess if Labour is implementing the parts of the Programme for Government that it insisted on in last year's coalition negotiations with Fine Gael.

Although the closure of Ireland's embassy to the Vatican is not top of the agenda for most Labour TDs, some are worried that the party needs to be more careful to avoid being seen as "anti-Catholic Church".

The meeting at the Institute of Chartered Accountants on Pearse Street in Dublin is the first such gathering since Labour's two-day 'think-in' in Carlow last September.

One Labour TD said yesterday that there was a need for a more "coherent approach" to explain to the public what the party was doing in Government. "We need to keep people's attention span and also give them some hope. We need a solid message," the TD said.

But Labour chief whip Emmet Stagg said he did not believe there were concerns about how Labour was performing in Government.

The meeting was arranged on foot of a suggestion at a parliamentary party meeting before Christmas -- which Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore agreed to.

A Labour Party spokesman said the meeting was being held to assess the performance after the first year in Government -- and to look ahead to the next 12 months.

The most recent Red C opinion poll put Labour's support at 16pc -- which was 3pc below the 19pc support level it achieved in the General Election.

Irish Independent

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