Labour will not re-enter coalition ‘at all costs’
Howlin says party must have ‘critical mass’ of TDs if it is to return to government
Brendan Howlin has said that Labour will not re-enter government ‘at any cost’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Labour will not re-enter government “at all costs” and must have enough TDs to ensure it has influence in any future coalition, one of the party’s most senior figures has said.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said Labour must achieve a “critical mass” of deputies to re-enter government but stressed he believed the party would achieve such a level.
His comments, in an interview with The Irish Times, follow a group of party TDs earlier this month saying the party should not re-enter a coalition with Fine Gael if it does not win at least 15 Dáil seats.
“We will be in government after the election if the people elect sufficient [numbers] of us to be impactive on that government but I am certainly not going to put a figure on what that would be.
“I believe there will be a significant critical mass that will return a balanced government and I don’t want to speculate in advance that ‘x number is acceptable, y number is not acceptable’.”
Fine Gael is also expected to commit to pension increases in its manifesto.
Mr Howlin, who says Labour will divide future resources on a three-to-one basis between spending increases and tax cuts, said the party will “confound our critics”.
“We will fight the election to maximise the number of seats. After that, we will consider our position. We are asking people to elect us to government.
“And if we have the critical mass to do that, that’s what we are going to do. If people reject our proposition, that’s it.”
“The one thing we can be certain of: there won’t be any such thing as government at all costs.”
“The bottom line is we are offering a coherent option to people. You need 80 seats between Fine Gael and Labour.”