Labour can double number of TDs in next election, says Howlin

Six councillors call on Labour leader to resign due to the party’s poor performance

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin TD at Leinster House, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said he is confident the party can double the number of its TDs in the next general election.

Mr Howlin’s leadership has come under pressure with six councillors calling on him to step down due to concerns at the party’s poor performance in the polls and a concern that it is not prominent in media.

Mr Howlin also received a letter from 14 councillors seeking an “urgent meeting” to discuss the direction of the party, as well as its “leadership and the need for change”.

A separate group of 16 councillors – out of a total of 50 – previously signed a letter in which they said they did not “feel this is the right time for a change”.

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Party chairman Jack O’Connor has said the issue of the person who leads Labour can be revisited once the party holds a full debate on how it can renew itself and social democracy in general.

On Tuesday Mr Howlin said personality politics did not solve problems and said he planned to meet the party’s local councillors at the Labour ‘think in’ shortly, including the 14 who have called for a change of leadership.

He said personality politics did not solve problems.

Rebuilding Labour

Mr Howlin told RTÉ’s Today with Miriam show he wanted to rebuild the Labour party.

Mr Howlin said he was hoping for a good turnout at the pre-Dáil think-in in Drogheda on September 16th and 17th when the direction of the party could be discussed.

The event would be a chance for him to “set out my stall”.

Mr Howlin said he knew people had been disillusioned after the last election but was confident the party will double the number of TDs in the next election from the current seven to 14.

Mr Howlin said he felt he was a good leader, a serious political thinker who understood the depth of the crisis.

Addressing the issue that he was not prominent in the media, but said sometimes “more strident” politicians garner more coverage and public interest. “A lot of people don’t read policies, they just hear the shrill sounds.”

He said his strength was economics. He had opposed the €8 billion rainy day fund as at present many people were experiencing a constant downpour.

When asked if he would be going to see the Pope, Mr Howlin said he would and he encouraged the Taoiseach to give a firm and vigorous response to the Pope and to let him know that “no one is immune to the law.”