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Labour and the Social Democrats

Deal or no deal?

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott
The Irish Times - Letters to the Editor.

Sir, – The outcome of the European and local elections suggests that the next government will again be anchored around a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil construct. However, there is a very real danger that this time it could be reliant on other components further to the right. Such a combination would threaten the progress which has been made towards a more socially (although unfortunately not economically) fair and equal society.

Labour and the Social Democrats can prevent such a regression and further a progressive agenda by combining to develop a “common platform for economic and social progress”, prioritising public provision in housing, health and caring, as well as people’s rights at work, in an environmentally sustainable, vibrant, mixed economy. They should also promote the realisation of a 32-county “Shared Ireland” through consensus rather than a sectarian head-count.

The basis for a merger between them does not exist, but it is imperative to present the electorate with a viable centre-left alternative to the dominance of the three parties of the nationalist tradition.

Such a “platform” could attract others on the Independent left and would be capable of gaining sufficient Dáil support to hold the centre of the ring, ensuring an economically and socially progressive public policy direction.


The interests of the people of all the 32 counties of Ireland must take priority over short-term manoeuvring for advantage. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.

Sir, – Between them, Aontú and Independent Ireland picked up 31 seats on local authorities last week. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael got 493 of their candidates elected to local government. The latter two have also taken seats in the European Parliament and will likely take more before this week is out. Is it time therefore for those parties to end their fishing expeditions in each other’s pools and merge into two parties? Perhaps even one single party?

This is the logic deployed by Sarah Burns (“Labour and the Social Democrats: is it time for a conscious coupling?”, Analysis, June 13th).

In suggesting the two parties could rely on almost 9 per cent public support if they merged misses the key point that both parties enjoy support individually for different reasons. Were a merger to happen, it is likely the Social Democrats in particular would lose significant support, bringing the parties’ joint support base closer to 5 per cent.

Burns also suggests that the Labour Party and Social Democrats “hold similar views on most political and social issues”. However, this also misses the ideological realities involved in politics. Labour’s leader is a firm adherent to the concept of criminalising sex work. The Social Democrats take the very opposite position. Having watched both parties and their public representatives over the years, I doubt very much either would simply roll over on the issue and adopt the other’s position. It may sound like a niche issue, but niche issues are the foundation of Irish political parties – otherwise we would only have three or four parties in total.

Rather than continue to focus on a merger of just two parties, which one has repeatedly confirmed they have zero interest in, perhaps commentators could focus on the issues people vote on and the positive impact for the Irish electorate of having a wide variety of options when elections come around? – Yours, etc,


East Wall,

Dublin 3.