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Labour Ard Fheis: Howlin defends party’s decision to enter into coalition with Fine Gael

REFORM Minister Brendan Howlin has defended the party’s decision to enter into coalition with Fine Gael, ahead of its Ard Fheis in Galway today.

He said that while some in the party feel more comfortable in opposition, the majority of Labour Party members believed taking up the challenges facing the economy is more important.

Mr Howlin also told RTE that people are aware of the challenges facing the Fine Gael-led government.

By and large, people understand the awful dilemma we're in," he said.

"And although they changed government last year, people understand they didn't change the economy.

"The economic circumstances, the level of debt, the hole that we're in, is there. They know now there is a Government with a clear view of how to get out of that hole."

He added that a just over 50pc registration for the controversial €100 household charge was “not a bad start” and that a more nuanced property site tax will be in place next year.

Labour's conference opens in Galway this evening, with debates on social protection, energy and political reform.

It is understood that as was the case with the Fine Gael Ard Fheis held two weeks ago, the mood will be sombre reflecting the state of the economy.

It is the first conference in 15 years to be held with the party in Government, and also marks the centenary of the foundation of the Labour Party.