Divided Dáil: Labour outlines ‘middle left’ plan to forge opposition alliance with Social Democrats

Labour is attempting to forge a “middle left” opposition alliance with the Social Democrats and Greens in a bid to prevent being outflanked by rival groups and secure better reformed Dáil speaking rights.

Tánaiste Joan Burton outlined the plan to the party’s six other TDs during Labour’s weekly parliamentary party meeting yesterday.

The proposal would, if successful, involve Labour joining force with the three Social Democrats TDs and two Green party representatives to form a 12-person alliance.

Officially, the plan is focussed on ensuring the “progressive, sensible left of centre” voices on the opposition benches are not outflanked by the hard left and right to allow issues like the minimum wage and abortion be addressed.

However, it is also linked to the fact Labour’s seven TDs will have significantly reduced speaking rights under a reformed Dáil unless they find a way to increase numbers.

Under the reform committee’s proposals published yesterday, the new Dáil system will allow three sets of speaking rights for those on the opposition, broken down as two large parties; “middle group” parties with 10-20 seats; and those below 10 seats.

Labour is understood to have already reached out to the Greens, with the party’s leader Eamon Ryan yesterday saying new alliances would be considered.

Meanwhile, a number of Labour TDs have privately said the Dáil should not return until there is a real possibility of electing a government.

The comments came as Labour yesterday abstained on supporting Enda Kenny’s bid to remain as taoiseach, but notably voted against Micheál Martin replacing him in power.

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