Alex White pledges to be a ‘more visible’ Labour leader

Minister of State says party needs to be assertive with its ‘distinctive message’

Minister of State and Labour Party leadership hopeful Alex White said he wants to be a bridge to party’s cohort of young TDs and Senators. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Minister of State and Labour Party leadership hopeful Alex White said he wants to be a bridge to party’s cohort of young TDs and Senators. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 14:49

Minister of State Alex White has said he would be “a more visible leader” of the Labour Party if he succeeds in its leadership contest.

Mr White said the party ought to have been more assertive in Government with its “distinctive message” and “distinctive mission”.

He said the party’s outgoing leader Eamon Gilmore did a “fantastic job” bringing forward Labour policies, but added that the new leader needs to be “more visible” as the Tánaiste as well as Labour leader.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr White declined to say specifically how he would be better than his leadership opponent, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, or Mr Gilmore.

He promised “new ways of speaking to the voter” and said he would act as a “bridge” to party’s cohort of young TDs and Senators.

He outlined a couple of difficulties the party faced in Coalition and said he would like to see Labour getting more “timely input” into Government business before it comes to Cabinet. He said Labour had not been made adequately aware of issues such as water charges and the controversial departure of the Garda commissioner.

Government business should be done in such a way that both Fine Gael and Labour have input, he said.

Mr White also echoed Ms Burton’s comments yesterday by saying there was “no basis” for considering a mooted €2 billion budget adjustment being sought by the IMF, the Fiscal Advisory Council and the European Commission. An adjustment of that scale would potentially damage an economy showing tentative signs of recovery, he said.

Asked about possible tax relief measures, Mr White said he was more interested in protecting “vital public services” such as health, education and social protection.