herald

Friday 18 August 2017

Burton to defend her leadership at meeting of angry Labour TDs

Joan Burton faces scrutiny (Getty)
Joan Burton faces scrutiny (Getty)

Labour Party leader Joan Burton is today expected to defend her leadership following the party's disastrous general election result.

Ms Burton will be at a special Labour Party meeting, also attended by dozens of unsuccessful party candidates, during which her leadership is likely to be raised.

The Dublin West TD is under serious scrutiny after overseeing an election bloodbath, which resulted in her party being reduced to just seven seats.

But sources last night insisted Ms Burton will not "be pushed" into resigning ahead of an expected leadership contest later this year.

Under the Labour constitution, the party must automatically hold a leadership contest six months after an electionif the party does not enter government.

Labour has insisted it will not form part of the next government - but has not ruled out supporting Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny or Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin for Taoiseach.

At today's meeting in Dublin, Labour's election performance is due to take centre stage.

The meeting is due to be chaired by former Labour parliamentary party chairman Jack Wall.

Longford-Westmeath TD Willie Penrose, his successor, last night said there will be "frank discussions" held at the meeting in relation to the party's electoral performance.

"A whole load of issues will be looked at in terms of how we can reinvigorate the party," Mr Penrose told the Herald.

"It is also important to hold this meeting, so as to allow us to look towards the future for the party which is now going through a rebuilding process," Mr Penrose added.

The Labour meeting comes as the issue of water charges continues to dominate the political agenda.

Advice

It emerged yesterday that Irish Water has received legal advice that warned that charges cannot be reversed. The advice, published in the Irish Times, was commissioned by the parent company of Irish Water after the election.

Both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein, which want the charges scrapped, have questioned the advice.

Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan said the claim was at odds with information she has obtained from the European Commission. Fianna Fail's Public Expenditure spokesperson Sean Fleming said his party's position was also at odds with the legal advice, which Irish Water has yet to publish.

"We absolutely contest the legal advice being put forward by Irish Water. It's important to recognise that this legal advice was commissioned by Irish Water, and it should be examined with caution in light of this.

"It's extraordinary to see Irish Water quoting EU rules as sacrosanct, considering they failed to meet the key Eurostat market test last year," he said.

Speaking yesterday, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy said he does not trust Fianna Fail to maintain its stance.

"I don't trust Fianna Fáil as far as I can throw them," he said.

"I think they may be willing to negotiate away opposition to water charges in exchange for something else - cabinet positions or whatever," Mr Murphy told Newstalk.

"The only way to ensure abolition (of Irish Water) is to step up the boycott (of charges) and a massive united demonstration."

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