Phelan calls for joint manifesto with Fine Gael
A Labour minister has broken ranks with the party leadership and called for a joint manifesto with Fine Gael ahead of the General Election.
Minister of State Ann Phelan also said a repeal of the Eighth Amendment - to allow for terminations in cases of foetal abnormalities - would "not be a deal breaker" for her in agreeing a joint manifesto.
The Labour parliamentary party reaffirmed earlier this year its commitment to working for the repeal.
In May, Tanaiste and party leader Joan Burton said the Labour Party's 2016 General Election manifesto would seek "on behalf of women to repeal the Eighth Amendment".
Minister Phelan, who has responsibility for rural development, told the Herald yesterday that "going to the people with joint policies makes sense".
"I understand the importance of Labour being a separate party with separate policies, but we have turned the country around with Fine Gael and I think tampering with recovery is not the answer," she said. "I am taking a pragmatic approach to political stability. We need a stable government at this time and I am thinking going to the people with joint policies makes sense."
Phelan went on to say she is "very open" to a joint manifesto as well as a full voting pact with Fine Gael.
"I realise I might be on my own in this thinking, but it needs to be discussed," she said. "The 8th Amendment would, of course, have to be discussed.
"The Labour Party has always been to the forefront for social change and the party has said it wants to repeal the amendment but this would not be a deal-breaker for me.
"I would compromise on it. I would prefer to see the Government go to the people on broad economic issues and embedding the recovery."
It is understood the Tanaiste will ask Labour TDs and Senators to agree to a vote-transfer pact with Fine Gael at the party's pre Dail think-in in Wicklow next month.
However, she will not advocate that the party agree a statement of common policy aims with Fine Gael.
A joint manifesto has also been ruled out by those at the top in Fine Gael.
Minister Phelan said a joint manifesto and a vote-transfer deal will send a strong signal to the electorate of a continuation of the "safe and sound management of the country".
It comes as the pro-choice group which gate-crashed a Fine Gael fundraising dinner staged their own mock Rose of Tralee festival calling for the Eighth Amendment to be repealed.
The event, by the Speaking of Imelda group, saw activists present themselves as contestants in their version of the festival representing different countries where they outlined the rights available to pregnant women.