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Solutions Discussed at Labour's Tom Johnson Summer School

Posted on July 04, 2011 at 05:27 PM

The sun shone upon Kilkenny this weekend as Labour Party members young and old joined together for Labour Youth's annual Tom Johnson Summer School named after the party's first leader. Speakers at the event which was attended by around 100 Labour activists included Michael D Higgins, Minister Brendan Howlin, Deaglán deBreadún (Political Correspondent, Irish Times) and Nat O'Connor (Director of TASC).

Members recognised the fact that the task of rebuilding the country's broken economy was going to be difficult, however discussed real solutions to the challenge ahead and celebrated the fact that Labour was now at the heart of the effort to build a better, fairer Ireland. Perhaps the feelings of the crowd were best put by Labour Youth's Dean Duke when he spoke stating 'we have a government that has a mandate; that has a strong majority; and that is communicating with the people. Most importantly, we have a government that has Labour values at its heart.

One of the most touching moments of the event came when Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade awarded two female activists from Belarus an award in solidarity with their struggle for democracy in their home country. Tears were shed by both the recipients and some in the audience when the Belarussians thanked Labour Youth and Eamon Gilmore for their gesture of solidarity.

The party leader officially closed the conference on Saturday evening to large applause, summating the sentiment that echoed throughout the event. He dealt with the fears of some members facing into the next few years saying, 'I know there are some who are concerned that participation in Government will inflict political cost on Labour. I know there are some who believe this, but whose sense of duty to their country compelled them to support our participation in Government.' However he told the crowd 'I do not share that view. The task of this Government is clear - to rescue the Irish economy - and if we succeed in that task, there is no reason why Labour should not continue to grow.'

When the days official business had been done, members gathered in the bar of Langton's Hotel for a social event at which political discussion flowed, encouraged by the weekend's talks .

All in all members left the occasion with a sense of direction and an enthusiasm in the belief that Labour could work with the people of Ireland to repair the damage inflicted by Fianna Fail and build a renewed republic with opportunity and fairness at its core.

by Dan O'Neill

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