Sunday 24 February 2019

'Think before you speak' warning to Labour politicians

Joan Burton
Joan Burton

Philip Ryan, Niall O'Connor and Kevin Doyle

Labour Party politicians have been warned to "think before they speak" for fear their remarks could damage the party in the run-up to the General Election.

Following weeks of disquiet within the party over its dismal poll rating, senior Labour figures have moved to allay fears of an electoral wipe out.

Party leader Joan Burton assured TDs that the party is performing best in Dublin and that she believes this will spread to other parts of the country in due course.

Members of the parliamentary party discussed the party's performance and its poll rating at a meeting this week.

There was also significant discussion about reports in the media, including the Irish Independent, which detailed how senior Labour figures privately fear the party is heading towards losing more than 20 seats. The reports caused consternation within the party and led to accusations certain senior figures are attempting to damage the chances of some TDs.

At the meeting on Wednesday night, Labour chairman Jack Wall urged members to "think before they speak" and warned against privately briefing the media about the party's electoral chances.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Wall said: "People say things in the spur of the moment, maybe with the best intentions in the world, but you should think before you speak".

"We have a lot of young candidates - both already elected and new, and it is important the senior members of the party think before they speak and make sure what we are saying is the reality of the situation," he said.

Mr Wall said Labour was "as well prepared" as any other party and would give the election "one hell of a shot".

After Wednesday's meeting, TDs and senators were remarkably more cautious about speaking to the media.

Those who did speak said they were now wary of talking to journalists for fear of retribution by senior party officials.

Asked about the issue in Dublin yesterday, Ms Burton said: "We had a very good discussion and obviously meetings of the parliamentary party are privileged.

"Much and all as ye [the media] might like to be inside the door the listening in we have to discuss our business in private."

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Joan Burton said she did believe a single party Government would be received well by the public.

She was speaking after an IPSOS/MBRI opinion poll showed the party on 7pc, a fall one point. Fine Gael's support is on 30pc.

"If you're suggesting that there will be a single-party Fine Gael Government, I don't know…

"There have been coalition governments now for the past 30 years and I'm not sure people in Ireland want a single-party government.

"That's for the electorate to decide."

Irish Independent

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