Both candidates in the Labour leadership contest have said the party has "lost the trust" of voters and "failed to present clear and coherent solutions" to the issues that most affect Irish society.
Alan Kelly and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin were speaking at the first of five head-to-head debates in Cork last night to decide who will replace Brendan Howlin as leader of the party.
Mr Kelly said that "in the crowded environment of opposition of the left, many people simply no longer know what we stand for and don’t factor us in". The Tipperary TD said that a "discerning electorate" and that it was an electorate that "only nine months ago, solidly rejected Sinn Féin".
"We have failed as a party to seize those key moments because we failed to present clear and coherent solutions to the issues that society is feeling most anxiety about; housing, health, education and public services."
"These are the moments when the electorate is open to persuasion and you have to be in there with passionate spokespeople presenting solutions that are supported by Councillors and party representatives on the ground. In order to be in a position to capture those moments, we have to be relevant. Currently, we simply are not," he said.
On a similar theme, Mr Ó Ríordáin said that the party had "lost the trust and confidence of voters" and was "hamstrung by the sense that the public has about out party".
"The political landscape is changing quickly, and our proud history no longer guarantees us a place in the future. We have lost the trust and confidence of voters, and we must fight to win back that trust."
We want the Irish people to trust us again. We can’t do that if we merely come up with the same answers I’ve heard ever since I first became a member of the Labour Party. Knock on more doors; work harder; get back into the communities. Of course we need to build on our values, but working harder – on its own – is not enough," he said.
The party suffered its worst ever general election result last month, winning just six seats.