Brendan Howlin toes party line on Sinn Féin ‘arrangement’

Labour leader Brendan Howlin, too, called for a progressive alliance of the left and has called for such parties to agree a “common agenda” if they are in government together.

Brendan Howlin toes party line on Sinn Féin ‘arrangement’

A majority of people don’t want Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil back in power and now have the option to make that happen, Richard Boyd Barrett has said. He called on all other left-wing parties not to “prop up” the old establishment parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

The leader of People Before Profit said he wants a left-wing government and called on Sinn Féin to commit to an arrangement featuring the Greens, the Labour Party, the Social Democrats, and themselves.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin, too, called for a progressive alliance of the left and has called for such parties to agree a “common agenda” if they are in government together.

He conceded that, as of yet, none of the other parties he has spoken about has accepted his offer.

In terms of Sinn Féin, he said: “The formal position of the Labour Party is yes, we are ruling out Sinn Féin.

We don’t see ourselves in any kind of arrangement with Sinn Féin in terms of government.

His party’s Dublin South-Central candidate, Rebecca Moynihan, yesterday tweeted that she would be happy to support a government which had Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin as housing minister.

Asked to respond to that tweet, Mr Howlin said he and his party have a “better approach”.

“We worked with Sinn Féin on the housing crisis,” he said.

“Jan O’Sullivan was involved with a policy platform agenda with them, that is what I meant in that we will talk to them or anybody about solving crises.

“Everyone in the party is entitled to their view but I have outlined the party’s position.”

Mr Howlin, speaking on RTÉ radio, insisted all his party’s proposals are costed, despite the fact that figures are not included in his manifesto or visible on his website. He said all figures, costed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, are included in a separate document.

He said the decision to increase the pension age to 67, signed into law when he was in government, was done on foot of the presence of the Troika. He said it was a government decision based on the agreement signed off by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party with the IMF, the ECB, and the EU.

“But we have undone much of what we had to do under the cosh of the Troika, when we had no money,” said Mr Howlin.

We had to do difficult things; we didn’t get everything right, but now we can look afresh.

He said he raised the issue of unwinding the pension age of 67 a year ago and it is a key priority for him in government.

“I said it last November, and when I said it in the Dáil the following week, I was ‘beaten up’ by the Taoiseach and by the leader of Fianna Fáil, who said it was undoable,” he said. “I have been dogged in pushing this, and others are only now following up.

“Yes, some people will want to work until they are 70. But it should be a choice. At 66 you should be given the right to retire if you so wish.”

He said the Department of Public Expenditure, during his time there, did a fine job of watching the public finances, but since his departure, Fine Gael had taken “their eye off the ball” and allowed major public projects to run over budget.

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats launched their cycling policy, the party’s bid to support cycleways and greenways such as the Baldoyle to Portmarnock Cycleway, Naas Greenway, and other projects including the Galway Cycle Bus and the Liffey Cycle-Path.

The party also announced proposals including increased funding provision for cycling in the Land Development Budget, an expansion of urban bike schemes, and a specific unit focused solely on cycling, within the Department of Transport.

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