Party structure

 Party Structure

The Labour Party organisation and procedures are democratic. They are designed to encourage the maximum amount of debate and free open exchange of opinion within the Party. The organisation and procedures which we use reflect our socialist values and distinguish the Labour Party as a uniquely democratic organisation. They provide a guarantee to all Party members that they have a right to be heard and that they will be listened to.

  • The Branch
  • Constituency Council
  • Executive Board
  • Central Council
  • The Party Leader and Deputy Leader
  • The Parliamentary Party
  • National Conference
  • Labour Youth
  • Labour Women
  • Labour Equality
  • The Labour Trade Union Group
  • Other Groups

The Branch

Your local branch is there to bring the Labour Party to your community. Branch members are involved in residents associations, youth clubs, sports clubs, trade unions and other bodies. Much of the time at branch meetings is taken up with discussing local problems and national politics. The branch keeps the Labour representatives informed about local issues and the views of the members about national issues.

The branch is involved in distributing literature on behalf of the Party and sometimes publishes its own newsletter.

The branch is involved in collecting money for the Party and sends this each year to Head Office. This is known as National Collection.

The Branch selects delegates to represent it at Constituency Council and at National Conference. All members of the branch have a vote in choosing candidates for local, Dail and Senate elections.

Branches invite Labour Councillors, trade unionists and other public representatives to their meetings to keep in touch with their work. Branches usually meet once a month.

At election times, the branch plays a vital role. It uses all its resources to work for the election of Labour Representatives.

Before the Campaign, members help select the candidate. During the campaign, which lasts about three weeks, members work day and night electioneering which includes canvassing, postering, issuing statements and leaflets in support of the Party and its candidates.

The Constituency Council

The Constituency Council brings together representatives of all branches in a constituency. It co ordinates the work of the Party in the constituency, organises campaigns in the constituency, publishes literature explaining Party policy and promoting Labour candidates. The Constituency Council helps to form new branches.

The Constituency Council elects officers to co-ordinate its activities and the officers meet on a regular basis.

The Constituency Council holds debates on national issues and invites guests to address its meetings which are open to all members.

The responsibility for running the Party in the constituency rests with the Constituency Council. All members of the Party for the constituency are members of the Constituency Council can attend Constituency Council meetings (provided that their branch has paid its affiliation fee) but only those who are paid up members for 2 months can vote.

Some of the larger constituencies divide their Constituency Councils to cover separate areas. These councils are called Divisional Councils e.g. Laois/Offaly has a Laois and an Offaly Divisional Council. Or Divisional Councils are often set up in local election areas.

Executive Board

The Executive Board oversees, directs and co-ordinates the organisation and affairs of the Labour Party. Its members include 6 members (3 men and 3 women) elected at Party Conference, 2 delegates of the PLP and 1 delegate of the Association of Labour Councillors, along with the Party Leader and Deputy Leader, the Party President, Chairperson and National Treasurer.

The Executive meets once a month. Its meetings are presided over by the Party Chairperson.

Central Council

The Central Council is responsible for the development, formulation and publication of Party policies and for ensuring participative, focused and results-oriented debate throughout the Party on matters of policy. It approves election manifestos and, following a general election, it must approve any political strategy proposed by the Party Leader in negotiations on the formation of a government.

The Central Council is composed of a delegate from each Constituency Council and Party Section, the members of the Executive Board, three co-opted members and an elected staff representative.

The Central Council meets every quarter, except during the quarter in which Party Conference is held, and it also operates through a number of committees such as the Policy Committee and the International Affairs Committee. Meetings of the Central Council are presided over by the Party Chairperson.

The Party Leader and Deputy Leader

The Party Leader and Deputy Leader serve a six year term. All members properly registered for a set period are entitled to vote in the election of the Leader and Deputy Leader. Candidates for the position of Leader and Deputy Leader are nominated by T.Ds. and must themselves be T.Ds.

The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP)

The Parliamentary Labour Party is composed of TDs, Senators, and MEPs. The Party Leader and Deputy Leader are elected by the members every six years. The Deputies and Senators are the elected representatives of the Party who serve in the Dail, the Seanad and the European Parliament. It is their responsibility to seek implementation of Labour's policies and to pursue their enactment into legislation, whether the Party is in opposition or a participant in Government.

National Conference

The National Conference of the Party takes place every two years at a venue usually outside Dublin. Delegates to National Conference are chosen by Branches, Constituency Councils, the Labour Women's National Council, affiliated Trade Unions and other affiliated organisations. The Conference is the policy-making unit of the party.

Conference elects National Executive Committee members, including the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Financial Secretary. Conference debates new policy documents and accepts or rejects them. Many motions submitted by branches, constituencies and unions are debated. Conference receives the report of the General Secretary including the report of the PLP and Financial Secretary for the period since the previous conference. On the Saturday evening the Conference is addressed by the Party Leader. Conference is covered widely by the press and TV. Besides its business meeting Conference provides a friendly social setting for delegates.

Labour Youth

Labour Youth is open to all members aged 15- 25 inclusive. It has its own constitution and is governed by youth conference which meets every November. Between conferences the Council meets at least four times a year to direct campaigns and recruitment. The National Youth Executive is elected at conference and runs Labour Youth on a day to day basis.

Labour Youth has over 1,000 members based in colleges and constituencies around the country. As members of the European Young Socialists (ECOSY) and the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) Labour Youth plays an active role in international affairs.

For more information see


Labour Women (LW)

Labour Women actively campaigns for the achievement of women's rights and equality in the Labour Party and our society. All party members are entitled to join and women are automatically members. It is governed by the Labour Women Executive (LWE), and is informed by Labour Women General Meetings which take place four times a year

The Executive organises seminars and public meetings on political, social and economic issues affecting women. It also liaises with other women's organisations. Labour Women has its own separate constitution. Labour Women are very active internationally in PES Women and Socialist International Women.

For more information see:


Labour Equality (LE)

Labour Equality was set up to address issues of inequality and to promote the concept of equality in Irish society. The aim of Labour Equality is to co-ordinate the activities of members who experience inequality as a result of gender, family status, marital status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religious belief or membership of Travelling community, or who are concerned with equality issues. Our sister section Labour Women coordinates the activities of women within the party.

Labour Equality is also working on the ground to build alliances with groups and communities that experience inequality. A further purpose of Labour Equality is to act as an advisory group to the party on equality proofing of current and future policies, and to set the equality agenda in the party.

Labour Equality has 3 sub-sections : Labour LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender), Labour Disability and Labour Diversity. All sub-sections have their own Committee and rules.


The Labour Trade Union Group

This section comprises all party members who are members of Trade Unions.

The Labour Party and the Trade Union movement have always worked closely together. Our identities remain separate but the Trade Unions and the Party have maintained a common purpose in the battle for the right of every person to enjoy a basic standard of living and for the right to true justice, legal, social and economic, for all sections of our society.

Twelve Trade Unions are affiliated to the Party:

  • (IMPACT) Municipal Employees Division
  • Transport Salaried Staff Association(TSSA)

Trade unionists participate at every level of the Party and the affiliated Unions are entitled to send delegates to Party conferences.

Other Groups

Other major groups which play a role within the Labour Party are the Labour Party Lawyers Group, Chairperson Gerry Kelly the Association of Labour Teachers, Chairperson Cllr Tom Kelleher and the Labour Social Services Group.