Brendan Howlin aims to double Labour Dáil seats

Labour is aiming to double its Dáil seats in the next general election and will begin the process of selecting candidates in the coming weeks as it seeks to rebuild the party.

Brendan Howlin aims to double Labour Dáil seats

While Labour faced a near wipeout in last February’s election, its membership has now increased by more than 1,000 in recent months as leader Brendan Howlin aims to secure the party’s future.

Mr Howlin and other senior party figures are moving away from campaigning in middle-class areas and instead focusing on attracting working-class support once again.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Howlin outlined measures to rebuild the party.

“My ambition is to double the size of the Labour Party at every level: To double our number of members from 4,000 to at least 8,000; to double our councillors from 50 to 100; and to double our number of TDs, also.

"In the first instance, we need to focus on places that traditionally voted Labour. Once we win back seats in those areas, we will continue campaigning to rebuild our party in every community across Ireland.”

Labour is battling to regain support after being annihilated during the last election where its TD numbers fell from 37 at one stage in government to just seven in opposition.

The process of selecting election candidates will begin this month, with the intention to pick those who have a strong chance in urban areas, including Dublin and Cork.

Mr Howlin, a former minister, also wants to return ownership of the party to its ordinary members, supporters, and grassroots.

“We are rebuilding the Labour Party as a movement of people, campaigning for justice in our economy, society, and environment. Over the last few months, 1,100 new people have joined our movement, and I hope people from all walks of life will continue to do so during 2017.

"Empowering our members and activists, rebuilding the party as a listening party, a party that is inclusive and welcoming, and that is open to different points of view,” he said.

The party has senior figures planning campaigns and its future, including re-examining Labour’s constitution, but younger faces will contest selection conventions shortly.

Dublin city councillor Rebecca Moynihan is being tipped to run in Dublin South Central.

The former deputy mayor has been involved in regeneration projects and campaigned for more multi-denominational schools.

Former lord mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague, who proposed the capital’s popular Dublin bike scheme in 2004, is also tipped to run in Dublin North West.

Labour also has 32 new local area representatives for the next local elections, including former party press officer Ciaran Garrett in Dublin’s north inner city, former ministerial advisor Peter Horgan in Cork City, and Labour Youth activist Eimear Martin in Dundalk, Co Louth.

Part of Labour’ rebuilding strategy will be to appeal to areas where traditionally they are strong, particularly in Dublin.

This involves competing with PBP-AAA, Sinn Féin, and the Social Democrats.

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