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No ‘magic number’ of seats Labour hopes to win in election

Party leader Brendan Howlin said only his party is prioritising public investment in health and housing.

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Labour leader Brendan Howlin (Niall Carson/PA)

Labour leader Brendan Howlin (Niall Carson/PA)

Labour leader Brendan Howlin (Niall Carson/PA)

Brendan Howlin has said he does not have a “magic number” of Dail seats he is hoping to win to help rebuild Labour.

The party had seven seats and is running 31 candidates in 31 constituencies in Saturday’s election.

Mr Howlin said Labour has steered away from engaging in “auction politics” and accused other parties of fooling people by promising big tax giveaways as well as “massive public spending”.

Speaking at the National Print Museum in Dublin, Mr Howlin claimed only his party is prioritising public investment in health and housing.

Asked about his hopes of more Labour TDs being elected, Mr Howlin responded: “For us, having a Labour Party in existence that can shape the policy direction of our country is extremely important.

“In terms of what numbers, what is a magic number, I don’t have one in mind.

“Three days out from the poll, I’ve never seen the electorate in flux the way it is now.”

Trying to cut taxes and invest in services - you can't spend the same euro twiceBrendan Howlin

The Labour leader also accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fail of following a market-driven agenda since 2016, adding those parties “want more of the same”.

“Both look to the private sector to solve public problems,” he said.

“It’s not working and people know it. We need change.

“Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein are all engaging in auction politics.

“Trying to cut taxes and invest in services – you can’t spend the same euro twice.

“There is a real danger that, in a desperate bid for votes, these parties are going to weaken the public finances again, promise the earth and put us on the same road that led to the collapse of our country in 2008.”

He added: “The parties are saying if you want change, vote for the same, and that can’t be.

“We need a change that is honest and will impact on the lives of people.”

Referring to the thousands of early years educators, providers and parents who protested in Dublin, Mr Howlin said childcare costs “have spiralled” over the last four years.

“Highly qualified staff aren’t given the pay they deserve,” he said.

“When a community needs a school, we build it. Our argument is simple – when a community needs childcare the state should provide it, too.

“On Saturday, the people will choose the direction that Ireland takes over the next five years. And there is a clear choice.”

PA