‘We can persuade voters for next general election’

Large numbers of Labour supporters who abstained from voting in the local elections could be persuaded to back the party in the next general election, a former deputy leader has suggested.

‘We can persuade voters for next general election’

Barry Desmond also dismissed the notion that age might be an issue for whoever is chosen as the next leader of the Labour Party.

Following the bruising results for Labour at the polls last month, the Cork man said: “We have, going into the next election, whenever that will be, 51 councillors, 34 Dáil deputies, 11 senators, and therefore, we’re in a position to contest every Dáil constituency in the country.”

He said that turnout in the last five general elections averaged 66%, but, in the recent local elections, it was 50%.

“So 16% more of the electorate will come out to vote in a general election and if anybody can predict at this stage which way that will go, then they have vast more political clairvoyancy than I have.”

Mr Desmond said he does not think age should be a factor on whether Social Protection Minister Joan Burton or Junior Health Minister Alex White takes over as party leader.

He said Finance Minister Michael Noonan was in his late 60s, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was in his mid 60s, and that he himself was in his late 70s and still the head of a Labour group in Dublin.

“This business of age relative to politics is a complete misnomer,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr White yesterday said he does not believe €2bn in cuts is needed in October’s budget.

His comments came as Labour TDs Ged Nash and Sean Kenny yesterday expressed support for Ms Burton’s bid for the leadership.

Debates between candidates for the leader and deputy leader positions in Labour will take place around the country over the next month with the first to be held in north Dublin next Monday.

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