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Statement by Willie Penrose TD on Labour Leadership

31 August 2018

Statement by Willie Penrose TD
Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Rural & Community Affairs

Speaking today on the Labour Party Leadership, chairperson of the Labour Parliamentary Party, Willie Penrose said:

"I was disappointed by Alan Kelly's interview this morning on Tipp FM. I have no problem with anyone who has ambitions to lead the Labour Party, but if that's what anyone wants he or she should respect the Party's Constitution and the agreed processes through which the Party chooses its leader. We have a vibrant internal democracy unlike some other parties, and every Councillor, Senator and TD will have an equal chance to have their say at our meeting in Drogheda on 16-17 September.

"The Labour Party has had three leaders in the space of five years. Having a fourth leader is not going to magically improve our poll ratings.

"No one is sanguine about the poll figures, but Irish politics is still in a state of flux and, as a smaller Party, Labour's first preference score is affected by the range of new options open to voters. It is a much more competitive environment with new, smaller left and centre-left parties out there.

"In the Labour Party, we have a collective leadership, and every one of our elected representatives has to share responsibility for the poll results.

"Under the Labour Party Constitution, we will have an election for Party Leader involving every member of the Party, on a one member one vote basis, after the next General Election. Until then we need to remain focused on explaining our policies and ideas to the public.

"The Labour Party has a long history of service to the Irish people. While we've made mistakes, we have defended those on low pay and fought for social justice and equality.
We've taken the time to develop a robust and comprehensive housing policy that could genuinely solve the housing crisis by investing €16 billion over five years, for the State to build 80,000 social and affordable homes. That's the real issue that people are concerned about when I meet them on the doorsteps or on the street.

"Personally, I've been campaigning hard for an improvement in how this state treats carers. And just today, we've proposed using mobile units to replace the closed rural post offices, as a way to preserve jobs and vital public services for people in rural communities.

"Labour is focused on finding sustainable solutions and the current focus on personalities is a distraction from the real issues that are affecting people's lives."

ENDS