Has Labour lost its way?

Sir, – One could be forgiven for thinking Labour was the main Opposition party, considering Una Mullally's ill-conceived rant about how it is insufficiently holding the Fine Gael Government to account ("Fine Gael rules unchallenged as cowed Labour stays mute", Opinion & Analysis, May 22nd).

In truth, the recently successful Labour motion on the attempted sell-off of AIB shares by Michael Noonan is a perfect example of where Labour has been the only party taking this minority Government to task.

Of course, neither Fianna Fail nor Sinn Féin merit attention in Mullally’s analysis nor do the Social Democrats.

One could only conclude that Mullally would like Labour to become a middle-class Dublin party, speaking to middle-class Dubliners like herself and focusing solely on middle class issues which pique the interest of Irish Times columnists. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 7.

Sir, – Contrary to Una Mullally’s view, I think Labour has been wise in keeping its head down. On those rare occasions that I see its leader Brendan Howlin on television, I always find myself wondering “Where’s Michael Noonan?”, such was the strength of their political double act. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – If Una Mullally would care to look to her left, she would see a party with just the message she is looking for on homelessness, the rent crisis, secular education, gender equality and repeal of the Eighth Amendment. – Yours, etc,


Sinn Féin,

Seanad Éireann,

Leinster House,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – Una Mullally makes a valid point about the need for bold alternative political voices to challenge the prevailing narrative. The Social Democrats was set up two years ago to do just that.

We offer a vision for a country where every person has the opportunity to reach their potential.

Our growing membership includes young people who campaigned for the marriage equality referendum, as well as people of all ages who believe strongly as we do in the values of social democracy.

Your columnist laments the fact that Labour is mute while Fine Gael rules unchallenged.

Unlike Labour, which abandoned its core voters to prop up a right-wing austerity government, the Social Democrats are deeply committed to the principle enshrined in our name.

In the decades after the second World War, social democratic policies created the greatest surge in economic prosperity and decency in human history.

Free quality education, universal healthcare, public housing, rent controls, progressive taxation and fair and accessible legal systems allowed hundreds of millions of people around the world to grow up and raise families in safety, comfort and dignity. At the same time, the global economy grew, business thrived and employment rose.

Since then, however, “trickle-down” economic doctrines favouring the super-rich have been used to persuade many western states to dismantle the institutions and social protections that shielded ordinary citizens from predatory elites. The mainstream parties in Ireland have blindly followed these doctrines.

The Social Democrats are committed to restoring the proven, sensible policy of encouraging enterprise and a strong economy, which enables investment in good quality public services that are vital for a strong and fair society. – Yours, etc,




The Social Democrats,

Leinster House,

Dublin 2.