Brendan Howlin says he wants to at least double number of Labour TDs in the Dáil after the next election and increase membership from 4,000 to 8,000.
Speaking at the conclusion of the party’s think-in at the Mansion House yesterday, the Labour leader said the party is “very conscious” that they took a “drubbing” during the last election, but outlined very ambitious rebuilding plans.
Labour had 37 TDs after the 2011 general election, but has seen its numbers plummet to just seven members in the current Dáil.
Mr Howlin said: “I want to double to membership of the party. We have 4,000 members at present, and 50 councillors. We can have a target in the next local election of 100 council seats. I certainly think we can double our number of TDs, and in fact do a lot better than that.”
Earlier yesterday, the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit (AAA-PBP), which held a strategy meeting in Dublin’s Kilmainham, said that it would be aiming to have more Dáil members than Labour.
The grouping currently has six TDs and is hoping to build numbers to form an alternative left-wing bloc.
The AAA-PBP said that its focus now is to forge an effective alliance within the Dáil and beyond to capitalise on what they claim is a continuing decline of centre-left politics.
However, in response, Mr Howlin said: “It’s odd that the objective of the so-called Left is to destroy the Left — why isn’t their objective to destroy the Right? Why isn’t their objective to replace Fine Gael in popular support. We have always had the Socialist Workers Party in the various guises — they are anti-water or they are anti-something else depending on what is popular.”
He said working people with struggling families want a party that will implement policies.
Mr Howlin said that the mission of the Labour party is to “reconnect with people who bluntly fell out with us and the bringing in of new people who are progressive thinkers who want to shape the future of Ireland”.
“We have to have an immediate strategy to prepare for what might happen any day and that is the collapse of this administration and a general election,” he added.
Mr Howlin said a number of TDs who lost their seats in February’s election had been “unlucky” and he hoped that some of these people would be re-elected next time around: “A number of colleagues were very close. I think we can double our number of TDs and probably a lot more.”
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