Ó Ríordáin: Labour must ‘address the real issues in people’s lives’

Labour must ‘address the real issues in people’s lives’

Ó Ríordáin: Labour must ‘address the real issues in people’s lives’

Labour leader contender Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said the survival of his party depends on addressing the issues facing families and neighbourhoods as opposed to making headlines or “squabbling” in the Dáil.

In comments that might be interpreted as a dig at his rival for the leadership, Tipperary TD Alan Kelly, Mr Ó Ríordáin set out why Labour members should back him.

The Dublin Bay North TD told the Irish Examiner of his priorities ahead of him and Mr Kelly going head-to-head in Cork City in the first in a series of hustings for the race.

Mr Ó Ríordáin said, if elected leader, he would prioritise campaigning to improve the lot of the 25% of workers on low pay and the 40% under age 30 in insecure jobs. He said Labour should propose legislation to end the employers’ veto of trade unions.

“No such veto exists anywhere across Europe, except in Ireland,” he said.

If such legislative proposals were deemed unconstitutional, Labour should campaign for a referendum to drop that veto, said the former junior justice minister.

Mr Ó Ríordáin also believes policy-led intervention will improve Labour’s prospects as opposed to clashes with others.

“We have to stop this obsession, instinct that we have to fight other parties,” he said. “We weren’t founded to fight other parties, but to represent the workers of the country and those who are disadvantaged.

“We need to fight poverty and pay, disadvantage, fight insecure work, to fight exploitation, to fight illiteracy and homelessness.

“If we are setting the agenda and we are leading on that agenda, I think people will respond to that better if we have a positive message. Because try to get a couple of seconds on RTÉ News or a couple of lines in a national newspaper versus being absolutely real in somebody’s own life experience and in their own community on something we are saying or trying to achieve. That is a much more effective way. That can be trying to just open a library in your area longer or having a referendum on workers’ rights."

Mr Ó Ríordáin declined to say why members should not vote for Mr Kelly but said he was in a “unique position”, after losing his seat in 2016, to understand why voters rejected Labour.

“It is about reaching above the noise of Leinster House and the squabble and addressing the real issues that are going on in people’s lives,” he said.

The TD disagreed that his remarks were indirectly targeting Mr Kelly.

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