The singing of traditional Irish songs late into the night has become the norm at political party think-ins.
Songs such as ‘The Town I Love so Well’ and ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’ often feature.
In truth, these events are highly manufactured affairs and are geared towards achieving some soft publicity ahead of the Dáil’s return.
Most of the time, these gatherings happen outside Dublin and the media are afforded an opportunity to mingle with politicians in a manner that is normally not possible.
Whatever limited value these events have, they are of most value when the party involved is in government.
Last night, the much- reduced Labour Party took their turn to open their think-in.
It says a lot about their current reduced station that they decided to hold it at Dublin’s Mansion House, a move some party figures said was to ensure media coverage.
“These events are all about the media. If you guys don’t come then there is no point in having them. And now we are out of government, the appetite to travel is vastly reduced, so here we are,” said one former minister last night.
While the party claims it entered government in 2011 in the best interest of the country, the people in their masses did not deem fit to thank them for their efforts in 2014 at the local elections or earlier this year in the general election.
With just seven TDs and even fewer senators, the party’s poll ratings remain stuck below the 10% mark.
The hockeying at the polls forced Joan Burton’s departure as leader and she was replaced by a reluctant Brendan Howlin.
Further shrinking pains have had to be endured with letting go of their swanky offices in the Docklands and many key staff who had served the party over many years. That their current HQ is a basement is seen by some as a harsh but accurate metaphor of where they find themselves.
But all is not lost for the oldest political party in the State.
Howlin is a heavyweight, serious politician who can, even on an interim basis, steer the party to calmer waters. He has two and a half years until the next real test, the 2019 local elections, to revive the party’s ranks at council level.
If he can restore the Labour Party imprint in former strongholds such as Cork City, parts of Dublin, and in Galway, where they were decimated, then the party will have a viable base from which to rebuild a Dáil team.
The one hope the party can have is that Fianna Fáil, which wrecked the country before being decimated in 2011, are resurgent once again and have the greatest level of public support of any party in the country.
They, too, can take hope from the return of the Green Party to the national political stage which proves that previous toxicity can fade.
Labour’s Rocky Road to Dublin still lies ahead but it is one they can overcome.
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