Labour rebel calls for debate on leadership

Broughan says leadership issue has come into focus with ‘disaster’ in Meath East byelection

Following the resignation of Nessa Childers from the Parliamentary Labour Party, Tommy Broughan has said the time has come for Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s leadership of the party to be discussed. Photograph: Eric Luke

Following the resignation of Nessa Childers from the Parliamentary Labour Party, Tommy Broughan has said the time has come for Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s leadership of the party to be discussed. Photograph: Eric Luke

Mon, Apr 8, 2013, 06:00

Labour’s Tommy Broughan has said the time has come for Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore’s leadership of the party to be discussed.

Mr Broughan, who represents Dublin North East, remains a member of the party after losing the whip in December 2011 when he voted against the short allocation of time for debate on the extension of the bank guarantee.

“I think his leadership has to come into focus now with the disaster in Meath East...From the middle of 2010 when we were at 33 per cent to last week when we slipped to 4½ per cent, that’s an amazing turnaround in the fortunes of any party.

“And people would say if it was in sport, or in business or in anything else, you would be looking at the leader and the manager and the captain of the team. Is he performing, is he delivering?”

Mr Broughan told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that the seven members of the parliamentary party now outside the fold were described as “the magnificent seven” by one of his supporters.

Barracks closure
Apart from Mr Broughan, the other six are TDs Róisín Shortall, Colm Keaveney, Patrick Nulty, Senator James Heffernan as well as MEP Nessa Childers, who resigned from the parliamentary party last Friday. Willie Penrose TD will return, having refrained from criticising the party since resigning the whip over a barracks closure in Mullingar.

Ms Childers addressed a meeting of disenfranchised grassroots members at the weekend. She told the Campaign for Labour Policies group on Saturday that any assertion by the party leadership that her resignation from the party was not a tough decision was an “outrage”.

She rejected suggestions by Mr Gilmore and Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte that staying in Government through tough times was in fact the hard choice.

“I find that an outrage as do other people...the idea that somehow what we have done is not courageous. My question to them is, answer me: is cutting benefits to women and children an act of courage?

Challenge
“I aim to turn that back on those people and challenge the parliamentary Labour party to say why they are continuing with these policies.”

She refused to be drawn on how many more high-profile resignations might come but said she would welcome them only as a “last resort”.

Her address was broadly welcomed by some 60 attendees, comprising mainly of councillors, activists and general members.

Those present voted unanimously on two proposals, including a call for a special party conference to discuss the renegotiation of the programme for government.

They also agreed on the creation of a group to examine a six-point plan which would form part of those discussions.

It includes a suspension of the Croke Park deal, an increase in the minimum wage, capital programme investment for job creation, a suspension of the property tax and reforms on dealing with the mortgage crisis.