Labour never lost its voice

Sir, – With due respect and solidarity with my county colleague Paul Gavan and my former comrades Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy and the values we share, I think they miss Una Mullally's point ("Fine Gael rules unchallenged as cowed Labour stays mute", Opinion & Analysis, May 22nd) in their rush to promote their own parties (May 24th).

She wasn’t questioning Labour’s values and policies. In fact, she said they reflect, and they do, those of many people in Ireland who reject, as we do, the right-wing values of Fine Gael. Una Mullally just hasn’t heard us lately. I take that as honest comment.

Your columnist knows that if Labour hadn’t been in government, the marriage equality referendum would still be an aspiration. She knows that if we were still there a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment would be closer.

If she has doubts about our commitment to gender equality and workers’ rights, she might look at our success in getting the Gender Pay Gap Bill through second stage in the Seanad this week, or at the Competition (Amendment) Bill which gives trade union rights to freelance workers, and which looks likely to become law next week.

Unfortunately, the Housing Bill I introduced on behalf of Labour was voted down by eight votes last December. But it would have brought in rent regulation, security of tenure and other measures to deliver houses – actions most urgently needed when families are being turfed out of their homes and directed to Garda stations for shelter.

Una Mullally may be right that our message is not getting through. We need to address that. But our values are passionately held. We know who we are, and we know that our energy must go into bringing about change for the better – not just standing on the sidelines heckling.

Continuing our work to bring about an Ireland of social and economic equality is exactly what our founders Connolly and Larkin would have wanted us to do.

And it is exactly what we will do. – Yours, etc,


Dáil Éireann,

Leinster House,

Dublin 2.