Wednesday 13 December 2017

Labour 'failed' to protect working families – Burton

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton
Social Protection Minister Joan Burton

Daniel McConnell Political Correspondent

SOCIAL Protection Minister Joan Burton believes the Labour Party has failed to deliver a "reliable remedy" to working families who face unprecedented threats to their living standards.

Speaking at the party conference in support of a proposal to introduce a living wage and to oppose zero-hours contracts, Ms Burton will today tell delegates the party has failed to do enough to protect working families.

"There is one thing we have to recognise honestly. Workers and their families face unprecedented threats to their living standards and we as social democrats have yet to offer them a reliable remedy," the minister will say.

Her comments will echo remarks by party leader Eamon Gilmore earlier this week, where he said he wanted tax cuts to help families.

In his opening address to the conference, Mr Gilmore said had Labour not gone into office in 2011, Ireland would now be entering into a second bailout.

"What would have happened if Labour had not gone into Government? The answer is we would now be going into a second bailout. With more unsustainable debts, more job losses, less investment, and more cuts," he said.

Mr Gilmore also led tributes to Senator Jimmy Harte, who is continuing to recover from a serious fall two weeks ago.

Ms Burton will acknowledge life in Government has been tough, and despite the failure to offer sufficient support for families, she will insist the party has not "deserted the political values that bind us".

"A recovery that didn't improve the living standards of ordinary families would be no recovery at all. But that recovery must come from the middle out, not the top down," she will say.

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte sounded an ominous tone at the start of the conference. He said those alienated from politics because of the crash would "vote with gay abandon against the traditional political parties".

He added that he could understand why people would feel that way, given what they had suffered.

In his address today, SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor will say the parties of the left have failed to win "sufficient support among the electorate for the politics of social solidarity".

Until Labour could win such support, the party "must be prepared to go into government with centre-right parties to defend the interests of working people".

Irish Independent

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