John Downing: Labour's footsoldiers must prepare for the battle ahead - to win back hearts of 'middle Ireland'
In some ways, this is a tale of three leaders in one year. There is the dignified silent one, Eamon Gilmore, unceremoniously ousted last summer despite being their most successful leader ever. There is the voluble current leader Joan Burton, who did the ousting. And there is her extremely ambitious deputy, Alan Kelly, curiously already being talked of as the next leader of the Labour Party.
Is the existence of such political gossip a metaphor for the current state of Ireland's oldest political party? Just four years ago they were on a historic high of 37 TDs. But a slew of opinion polls suggest their Dáil seats could be reduced to single digits next time.
Most polls put them on or about 6pc - and a 6.4pc vote gave them 12 TDs, in a 166-seat Dáil, in the 1987 General Election. In the next election there will just 158 seats - a number which could help send them into single figures.