Wed, 06 Oct, 2021 – 18:00 Paul Hosford, Daniel McConnell, Political Staff
Labour leader Alan Kelly has insisted his party should be left-wing, but says he has no interest in populist “shouting from the sidelines”.
Mr Kelly had told Pat Kenny on Newstalk that he was “never going to lead a party that wants to be in opposition, shouting from the sidelines”.
“There will be times where we need to go into opposition, there will be times where we feel we need to go into government depending on the position that the country is in, or what position we’re in with regards to our coalition choices and our policy implementation.
“But I’m not going to lead a party that’s populist, shouting from the sidelines, left-wing, and will never enter politics and will always tell people that they can have what they want and they don’t have to pay for it and that utopia exists.
“People forget that ideology is important. It’s very important to me. I come from a social democratic party, I will be pushing those ideas.”
However, speaking at the launch of the party’s alternative budget, Mr Kelly moved to clarify some of those comments, saying that he sees Labour as distinct from the other parties of the left.
“It was probably because it was in a bullet round of questions from Pat Kenny. But, obviously, I didn’t in any way intend that.
Obviously, I want to lead the most radical and fantastic left-wing party in the country, because that’s what we are.
“Of course, we are a left-wing party.
“But what I was saying is that there is a big difference between the Labour Party as a left-wing party and those on the far-left.”
One Labour source said that the original comments were “a little embarrassing” for the party.
The party’s finance spokesperson Ged Nash said that its alternative budget would “deliver a real and sustained pandemic dividend that would see investment in childcare, hospital waiting lists, and housing over poorly targeted tax cuts”.
“We want this year’s budget to deliver real change for working people that goes beyond a once-off ‘pandemic dividend’ or an extra day off work,” he said.
“The Labour Party believes that a fairer, more equal Ireland must emerge from this period of crisis and deliver a new deal that supports workers and protects incomes. Central to our budget proposals is the need to tackle the soaring cost of living.”
The party’s housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said the “speculative housing market has a hidden human and social cost we can no longer afford”.
“The pandemic has exposed the social cost of high rents, insecure housing, and proved the need for an increased role by the State in the provision of housing,” she said.
“Caught in a cycle of ever-rising rents and house prices, young people have lost hope of ever affording a home to call their own. The cost of living continues to soar in Ireland while household incomes have not kept pace.”