Labour’s way and Frankfurt’s way

 

Sir, – The grasp of the facts displayed by The Irish Times in its editorial “What now for the Labour Party” is sadly lacking (April 1st).

For instance, the claim made that Labour promised to “burn the bondholders” does not stand up to scrutiny. It never happened. The Labour Party made no such commitment.

And when you refer to “Frankfurt’s way not Labour’s way”, it is clear that you have fallen into the trap of taking claims made by our political opponents at face value, rather than looking at what we actually achieved.

In fact, one could be forgiven for concluding that there was a concerted effort to overlook entirely any achievement by the Labour Party during our time in office.

The reality is that in government we renegotiated Fianna Fáil’s bad deals, closed Anglo Irish Bank, ended the bank guarantee and exited the bailout. We also prevented the wholesale sell-off of State assets, protected core welfare payments and increased the minimum wage, not once but twice.

On top of that, we removed 700,000 low-paid workers from the USC net, placed collective bargaining on a statutory basis, and ensured that, through the Haddington Road and the Lansdowne Road agreements, there would be no compulsory public sector redundancies.

In so doing, by the way, we maintained industrial peace and protected public services, unlike many other programme countries.

Frankfurt’s way? I don’t think so!

The link drawn by your writer between the outcome of the 1987 election and the merger with Democratic Left is very puzzling, given that there was over a decade between the two events.

However, the reference to the 1987 election is not entirely irrelevant in the current context. Many people wrote us off then, and wondered whether we could survive as a political party. We did of course, and a few short years later in 1992, we bounced back with our best ever general election result, securing 19.8 per cent of the vote. The Labour Party has been in existence for over a century, and in that time, we have faced and overcome many difficulties and challenges along the way, and I have no doubt that we will overcome this one too. – Yours, etc,

WILLIE PENROSE TD

Leinster House,

Dublin 2.