Saturday 16 December 2017

SIPTU’s Jack O’Connor refuses to support Sinn Fein despite Labour party election wipe-out

SIPTU president Jack O'Connor. Photo: Domnick Walsh
SIPTU president Jack O'Connor. Photo: Domnick Walsh
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

THE President of the country’s largest trade union SIPTU has re-affirmed the union’s support for the Labour party despite an election wipe-out.

Jack O’Connor was speaking to Ivan Yates on Newstalk Breakfast this morning.

Yates suggested to Mr O’Connor that in light of the local and European election results, Sinn Fein have become the party of working class people.

However Mr O’Connor refused to switch allegiance to Sinn Fein, claiming that working class people still needed a party which specifically represented their needs.

He said that the Labour party did the right thing by entering government in 2011, claiming that the only alternative would have been a right wing government which would have inflicted even worse austerity on working class communities.

“When you distill it all down in February of 2011 the alternative that we were faced with was a Fine Gael Government propped up by one or two right wings, or Fianna Fail, or a new General Election which would have resulted in a Fine Gael government with an overall majority.

“The Labour Party was faced with a choice of staying out and letting the agenda which was set out in the Fine Gael manifesto be implemented to the detriment of working class people, or going in and trying to ameliorate it.”

He said that he still holds the belief of James Connolly, that an independent party for labour was needed.

“My union was founded by Jim Larkin, along very shortly after by James Connolly. Connolly supported founding a independent party of labour serving working class people in good times and in bad.

“Connolly went out and died with people in the republican movement and Sinn Fein, but he never joined them because he always insisted working people should have a party of their own

He also refused to endorse a leadership candidate, however confirmed he will have a vote in the party’s leadership election.

“I’m not supporting anybody. I’m a member of the party I have a vote, I haven’t actually made up my mind.”

Mr O'Connor also called for a kinder budget in October in light of positive exchequer returns.

“It won’t be necessary to do anything approaching €2bln.

"It should be possible to achieve the target without inflicting any more pain on working people."

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