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The Labour Party ( ga, Páirtí an Lucht Oibre, literally "Party of the Working People") is a
centre-left Centre-left politics (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of gramma ...
,
social-democratic Social democracy is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy within socialism that supports Democracy, political and economic democracy. As a policy regime, it is described by academics as advocatin ...
, and
pro-European Pro-Europeanism, sometimes called European Unionism, is a political position that favours European integration and membership of the European Union (EU).Krisztina Arató, Petr Kaniok (editors). ''Euroscepticism and European Integration''. Politi ...
political party in the Republic of Ireland. Founded on 28 May 1912 in
Clonmel Clonmel () is the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym ...

Clonmel
,
County Tipperary County Tipperary ( ga, Contae Thiobraid Árann) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by Willia ...

County Tipperary
, by
James Connolly James Connolly ( ga, Séamas Ó Conghaile; 5 June 1868 – 12 May 1916) was an Irish republicanism, Irish republican, socialist and trade union leader. Born to Irish parents in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh, Scotland, Connolly left school for ...

James Connolly
,
James Larkin James Larkin (28 January 1874 – 30 January 1947), sometimes known as Jim Larkin or Big Jim, was an Irish republican, socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making ...
, and
William O'Brien William O'Brien (2 October 1852 – 25 February 1928) was an Irish Irish nationalism, nationalist, journalist, agrarian agitator, social revolutionary, politician, party leader, newspaper publisher, author and Member of Parliament (MP) in the ...
as the political wing of the
Irish Trades Union Congress The Irish Trades Union Congress (ITUC) was a union federation A national trade union center (or national center or central) is a federation or confederation of trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English Americ ...
, it describes itself as a "
democratic socialist Democratic socialism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ab ...
party" in its constitution. Labour continues to be the political arm of the Irish trade union and labour movement and seeks to represent workers' interests in the Dáil and on a local level. Unlike many other Irish political parties, Labour did not arise as a faction of the original Sinn Féin party, although it incorporated Democratic Left in 1999, a party that traced its origins back to
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
. The party has served as a partner in
coalition government A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate to form a government. The usual reason for such an arrangement is that no single party has achieved an absolute majority after an election An election is a ...
s on eight occasions since its formation: seven times in coalition either with
Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
alone or with Fine Gael and other smaller parties, and once with
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conser ...
. This gives Labour a cumulative total of twenty-five years served as part of a government, the third-longest total of any party in the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
after Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Led by Alan Kelly, the fifth-largest party in
Dáil Éireann Dáil Éireann ( , ; ) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community i ...
, with seven seats, and is the joint third-largest party in
Seanad Éireann Seanad Éireann ( , ; "Senate of Ireland") is the upper house of the Oireachtas (the Irish legislature), which also comprises the President of Ireland and Dáil Éireann (the lower house). It is commonly called the Seanad or Senate and its me ...

Seanad Éireann
, with four seats, making Labour the fifth-largest party in the Oireachtas overall as of 2021. The Labour Party is a member of the
Progressive Alliance The Progressive Alliance (PA) is a political international of Social democracy, social democratic and Progressivism, progressive political parties and organisations founded on 22 May 2013 in Leipzig, Germany. The alliance was formed as an alte ...

Progressive Alliance
,
Socialist International The Socialist International (SI) is a worldwide organisation of political parties which seek to establish democratic socialism Democratic socialism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophi ...
, and
Party of European Socialists The Party of European Socialists (PES) is a social democratic Social democracy is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other form ...

Party of European Socialists
(PES).


History


Foundation

James Connolly James Connolly ( ga, Séamas Ó Conghaile; 5 June 1868 – 12 May 1916) was an Irish republicanism, Irish republican, socialist and trade union leader. Born to Irish parents in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh, Scotland, Connolly left school for ...

James Connolly
,
James Larkin James Larkin (28 January 1874 – 30 January 1947), sometimes known as Jim Larkin or Big Jim, was an Irish republican, socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making ...
and
William O'Brien William O'Brien (2 October 1852 – 25 February 1928) was an Irish Irish nationalism, nationalist, journalist, agrarian agitator, social revolutionary, politician, party leader, newspaper publisher, author and Member of Parliament (MP) in the ...
established the Irish Labour Party on 28 May 1912, as the political wing of the
Irish Trades Union Congress The Irish Trades Union Congress (ITUC) was a union federation A national trade union center (or national center or central) is a federation or confederation of trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English Americ ...
. This party was to represent the workers in the expected Dublin Parliament under the Third
Home Rule Act 1914 The Government of Ireland Act 1914 (4 & 5 Geo. 5 c. 90), also known as the Home Rule Act, and before enactment as the Third Home Rule Bill, was an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom ...
. However, after the defeat of the trade unions in the
Dublin Lockout The Dublin lock-out was a major industrial dispute between approximately 20,000 workers and 300 employers which took place in Ireland's capital city of Dublin. The dispute lasted from 26 August 1913 to 18 January 1914, and is often viewed as t ...
of 1913 the labour movement was weakened; the emigration of James Larkin in 1914 and the execution of James Connolly following the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of ...
in 1916 further damaged it. The
Irish Citizen Army The Irish Citizen Army (), or ICA, was a small paramilitary Paramilitary forces usually tend to wear similar but different uniforms to the military, for instance gray " urban camouflage".A paramilitary organization is a semi-militarized f ...
(ICA), formed during the 1913 Lockout, was informally the military wing of the Labour Movement. The ICA took part in the 1916 Rising. Councillor , a Labour Party member of Dublin Corporation, was the only serving elected representative to be killed during the Easter Rising. O'Carroll was shot by John Bowen-Colthurst and died several days later, on 5 May 1916. The ICA was revived during
Peadar O'Donnell Peadar O'Donnell ( ga, Peadar Ó Domhnaill; 22 February 1893 – 13 May 1986) was one of the foremost radicals of 20th-century Ireland. O'Donnell became prominent as an Irish republican, socialism, socialist activist, politician and writer. Early ...
's
Republican Congress The Republican Congress ( ga, An Chomhdháil Phoblachtach) was an Irish republicanism, Irish republican and Marxist-Leninist political organisation founded in 1934, when pro-communist republicans left the Irish Republican Army (1922-1969), Anti-Tre ...
but after the 1935 split in the Congress most ICA members joined the Labour Party.


Early history

In Larkin's absence,
William O'Brien William O'Brien (2 October 1852 – 25 February 1928) was an Irish Irish nationalism, nationalist, journalist, agrarian agitator, social revolutionary, politician, party leader, newspaper publisher, author and Member of Parliament (MP) in the ...
became the dominant figure in the
Irish Transport and General Workers' Union The Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), was a trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English), often simply referred to as a union, is an organization of workers who have come together to achieve common goal ...
(ITGWU) and wielded considerable influence in the Labour Party. O'Brien also dominated the Irish Trades Union Congress. The Labour Party, led by Thomas Johnson from 1917, declined to contest the 1918 general election in order to allow the election to take the form of a plebiscite on Ireland's constitutional status (although some candidates did run in Belfast constituencies under the Labour banner against Unionist candidates). It also refrained from contesting the 1921 elections. As a result, the party was left outside
Dáil Éireann Dáil Éireann ( , ; ) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community i ...
during the vital years of the independence struggle, though Johnson sat in the
First Dáil The First Dáil ( ga, An Chéad Dáil) was Dáil Éireann (Irish Republic), Dáil Éireann as it convened from 1919 to 1921. It was the first meeting of the Unicameralism, unicameral Legislature, parliament of the revolutionary republic, revolut ...
.


In the Irish Free State

The
Anglo-Irish Treaty The 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty ( ga , An Conradh Angla-Éireannach), commonly known as The Treaty and officially the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was an agreement between the government of the United Kingd ...
divided the Labour Party. Some members sided with the Irregulars in the
Irish Civil War The Irish Civil War ( ga, Cogadh Cathartha na hÉireann; 28 June 1922 – 24 May 1923) was a conflict that followed the Irish War of Independence and accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State, an entity independent from the United ...
that quickly followed, however O'Brien and Johnson encouraged its members to support the Treaty. In the 1922 general election the party won 17 seats. However, there were a number of strikes during the first year and a loss in support for the party. In the 1923 general election the Labour Party only won 14 seats. From 1922 until
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conser ...
TDs took their seats in 1927, the Labour Party was the major
opposition Opposition may refer to: Arts and media * Opposition (Altars EP), ''Opposition'' (Altars EP), 2011 EP by Christian metalcore band Altars * The Opposition (band), a London post-punk band * ''The Opposition with Jordan Klepper'', a late-night tel ...
party in the Dáil. Labour attacked the lack of social reform by the
Cumann na nGaedheal Cumann na nGaedheal (; "Society of the Gaels The Gaels ( ; ga, Na Gaeil ; gd, Na Gàidheil ; gv, Ny Gaeil ) are an ethnolinguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a comm ...
government. From 1927, a large number of the Labour Party’s voters were pre-empted by Fianna Fáil, with its almost identical policies. Labour lacked Fianna Fáil’s ‘republican’ image, which was a contributing factor to this loss. Larkin returned to Ireland in April 1923. He hoped to resume the leadership role in the ITGWU which he had previously left, but O'Brien resisted him. Larkin also created a pro-communist party called the
Irish Worker League The Irish Worker League was an Ireland, Irish communist party, established in September 1923 by James Larkin, Jim Larkin, following his return to Ireland. Larkin re-established the newspaper ''The Irish Worker''. The Irish Worker League (IWL) su ...
. O'Brien regarded Larkin as a "loose cannon." Following a failed challenge to O'Brien's leadership and association with communist militancy, Larkin was expelled from the ITGWU and created the WUI, a communist alternative to the ITGWU, in 1924. Two-thirds of the Dublin membership of the ITGWU defected to the new union. O'Brien blocked the WUI from admission to the ITUC. Larkin was elected to Dáil Éireann at the September 1927 general election. However, the Labour Party prevented him from taking his seat as an undischarged bankrupt for losing a libel case against Labour leader Tom Johnson. In 1932, the Labour Party supported
Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera (, ; first registered as ''George de Valero''; changed some time before 1901 to ''Edward de Valera''; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. He served severa ...

Éamon de Valera
's first Fianna Fáil government, which had proposed a programme of social reform with which the party was in sympathy. In the 1943 general election the party won 17 seats, its best result since 1927. The party was
socially conservative Social conservatism is a political philosophy and variety of conservatism which places emphasis on traditional power structures over Cultural pluralism, social pluralism. Social conservatism in North America rose in the early 19th century as ...
compared to similar European parties, and its leaders from 1932 to 1977 (
William Norton William Joseph Norton (2 November 1900 – 4 December 1963) was an Irish Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and ...
and his successor
Brendan Corish Brendan Corish (19 November 1918 – 17 February 1990) was an Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as Tánaiste and Minister for Health (Ireland), Minister for Health from 1973 to 1977, Leader of the Labour Party (Ire ...
) were members of the
Knights of Saint Columbanus The Order (organization), Order of the Knights of Saint Columbanus () is an Irish national Catholic fraternal organisation. Founded by James O'Neill (priest), Canon James K. O'Neill in Belfast, Ireland, in 1915, it was named in honour of the Ir ...
. Despite this, In the 1930s the Labour Party received adverse publicity and was accused of tacitly supporting
Soviet Communism The ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was Marxism–Leninism Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology and the main communist movement throughout the 20th century.Lansford, Thomas (2007). ''Communism''. New York: ...
while the Irish Trades Union Congress was accused of circulating an article which proclaimed the Roman Catholic Church as an enemy of the workers. These were extremely negative accusations in an Ireland that was ardently anti-communist. William Norton wrote a letter to
Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XII ( it, Pio XII), born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (; 2 March 18769 October 1958), was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, ...
(then known as Cardinal Pacelli, Secretary of State at the Vatican), stating that "as a Catholic and the accepted leader of the Irish Labour Party, I desire most to repudiate both statements." A pamphlet was produced, entitled ''Cemeteries of Liberty'', which asserted that the Labour Party viewed both communism and fascism as "Cemeteries of Liberty". In an article, the Rev. Dr. George Clune, at the suggestion of the Rev. Fr. Edward Cahill, stated in support of the Labour Party that "the Irish Labour Party never at any time construed the term 'A Workers' Republic' as meaning a Republic of the Russian sort. This phrase was evolved by Connolly more than forty years ago, long before the establishment of Russian Bolshevism. This term was used by him, and subsequently accepted by the Irish Labour Party to denote a republic within which working men would have family security as contra-distinguished from the Republics of France and America, which suffered from the excesses of Capitalism ... The Party does not stand for (nor did it ever stand) for the nationalisation of private property, but for the nationalisation of certain services such as transport and flour-milling. Hence, this comes within the pronouncements of Pope Pius XI."


Split with National Labour and the first coalition governments

Despite efforts in the 1930s to sternly downplay the idea of Communist influence over the party, by the 1940s internal conflict and complementary allegations of communist infiltration caused a split in the Labour Party and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Tensions peaked in 1941 when party founder Jim Larkin and a number of his supporters were re-admitted to the party and subsequently accused of "taking over" Labour branches in Dublin. In response William X. O'Brien left with six TDs in 1944, founding the National Labour Party, whose leader was
James Everett James Everett (14 February 1890 – 18 December 1967) was an Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as Minister for Justice (Ireland), Minister for Justice from 1954 to 1957, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs from 1948 ...

James Everett
. O'Brien also withdrew the ITGWU from the Irish Trades Unions Congress and set up his own congress. The split damaged the Labour movement in the 1944 general election. The ITGWU attacked "Larkinite and Communist Party elements" which it claimed had taken over the Labour Party. The split and the anti-communist assault put Labour on the defensive. It launched its own inquiry into communist involvement, which resulted in the expulsion of six members.
Alfred O'Rahilly Alfred O'Rahilly, Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, KSG (1 October 1884 – 1 August 1969) was an academic with controversial views on both electromagnetism and religion. He briefly served in politics, as a Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork C ...
in ''The Communist Front and the Attack on Irish Labour'' widened the assault to include the influence of British-based unions and communists in the ITUC. The National Labour Party juxtaposed itself against this by emphasising its commitment to Catholic Social Teaching. However, Labour also continued to emphasise its anti-communist credentials. It was only after Larkin's death in 1947 that an attempt at unity could be made. After the 1948 general election National Labour had five TDs – Everett,
Dan Spring Dan Spring (1 July 1910 – 1 January 1988) was an Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Kerry North (Dáil constituency), Kerry North constituency from 1943 to 1981. He was a Minister ...
, James Pattison, James Hickey and John O'Leary. National Labour and Labour (with 14 TDs) both entered the First Inter-Party Government, with the leader of National Labour becoming
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs ( ga, Aire Poist agus Telegrafa) was the holder of a position in the Government of Ireland (and, earlier, in the Executive Council of the Irish Free State). From 1924 until 1984 – when it was abolished ...
. In 1950, the National Labour TDs rejoined the Labour Party. From 1948 to 1951 and from 1954 to 1957, the Labour Party was the second-largest partner in the two inter-party governments (the largest being
Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
). William Norton, the Labour Party leader, became
Tánaiste The Tánaiste ( , ) is the deputy head of the government of Ireland The Government of Ireland ( ga, Rialtas na hÉireann) is the cabinet (government), cabinet that exercises executive (government), executive authority in Republic of Ireland, I ...
on both occasions. During the First Inter-Party Government he served as Minister for Social Welfare, while during the Second Inter-Party Government he served as Minister for Industry and Commerce. (See
First Inter-Party Government First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill, ...
and Second Inter-Party Government.)


Re-establishment in Northern Ireland

The
Republic of Ireland Act 1948 The Republic of Ireland Act 1948 (No. 22 of 1948) is an Act of the Oireachtas The Oireachtas ( , ), sometimes referred to as Oireachtas Éireann, is the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the aut ...
and
Ireland Act 1949 The Ireland Act 1949 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom In the United Kingdom an Act of Parliament is primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary l ...
precipitated a split in the
Northern Ireland Labour Party The Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) was a political party in Northern Ireland which operated from 1924 until 1987. After partition After the partition of Ireland in 1921, the NILP was founded as a socialist political party by groups such a ...
(NILP) with Jack Macgougan leading anti- Partition members out and affiliating branches to the Dublin party, joined by other left-wing and nationalist representatives and branded locally as "Irish Labour". At Westminster,
Jack Beattie John Beattie (14 April 1886 – 9 March 1960) was a Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) politician from Northern Ireland. He was a teacher by profession. In 1925, he became a Member of the Northern Ireland House of Commons for Belfast East (Nort ...
held Belfast West from
1951 Events January * January 1 – Patti Page's hit song "Tennessee Waltz" enjoys its first week as the No. 1 single, on ''Billboard charts, Billboard'' and ''Cashbox (magazine), Cashbox'' Record chart, charts, in the United States. * January 4 ...
to
1955 Events January * January 3 Events Pre-1600 * 69 – The Roman legions on the Rhine refuse to declare their allegiance to Galba Galba (; born Servius Sulpicius Galba; 24 December 3 BC – 15 January AD 69) was a Roman emperor ...
; the
British Labour party The Labour Party is a List of political parties in the United Kingdom, political party in the United Kingdom that has been described as an alliance of Social democracy, social democrats, Democratic socialism, democratic socialists and trade u ...
refused Beattie its
whip A whip is a tool designed to strike humans or other animals to exert control through pain compliance Pain compliance is the use of painful stimulus to control or direct an organism. The stimulus can be manual (brute force, placing pressure on ...
. At Stormont, was won by
Murtagh Morgan Murtagh Morgan (floruit, fl. 1925–1981) was a trade unionist and Irish republican politician. Morgan lived in Belfast and had a Roman Catholic background. In the 1920s, he became a republican labour activist in the Northern Ireland Labour Party ...
in
1953 Events January * January 1 – American country music singer-songwriter Hank Williams Death of Hank Williams, dies in his car age 29 from alcohol abuse and drug problems, following an undiagnosed case of Spina bifida, spina bifida occu ...
and
Paddy Devlin Patrick Joseph "Paddy" Devlin (8 March 1925 – 15 August 1999) was an Irish people, Irish socialist, Labour movement, labour and Northern Ireland civil rights movement, civil rights activist and writer. He was a founding member of the Social ...
in
1962 Events January * January January is the first month of the year in the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first of seven months to have a length of 31 days. The first day of the month is known as New Year's Day. ...
, but Devlin in 1964 left for the
Republican Labour Party The Republican Labour Party (RLP) was a political party in Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1964, with two MPs at Parliament of Northern Ireland, Stormont, Harry Diamond (politician), Harry Diamond and Gerry Fitt. They had previously been the ...
and Irish Labour contested no further Westminster or Stormont elections. In the 1949 local elections it won 7 seats on
Belfast City Council Belfast City Council ( ga, Comhairle Cathrach Bhéal Feirste) is the local authority Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Pu ...
, 6 (unopposed) on
Armagh Armagh ( ; ga, Ard Mhacha, , "Macha Macha () was a sovereignty goddess Sovereignty goddess is a scholarly term, almost exclusively used in Celtic studies (although parallels for the idea have been claimed in other traditions, usually unde ...

Armagh
urban district council In England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former King ...
(UDC) and one on
Dungannon Dungannon () is a town in County Tyrone County Tyrone (; ) is one of the thirty-two traditional Counties of Ireland, counties of Ireland, one of the six Counties of Northern Ireland, counties of Northern Ireland and one of the nine counties ...

Dungannon
UDC. In
Derry Derry, officially Londonderry (), is the second-largest City status in the United Kingdom, city in Northern Ireland and the fifth-largest city on the island of Ireland. The name Derry is an anglicisation of the Old Irish name ''Daire'' (mod ...

Derry
, the party collapsed when
Stephen McGonagle Stephen McGonagle (17 November 1914 – 4 March 2002) was a People of Northern Ireland, Northern Irish and Irish people, Irish trade unionist. Born in Derry, Ireland, McGonagle worked as a plumber.Andrew Finlay, ''Saothar'', Vol. 27, pp.10-12, Ir ...
left after 1952. It was strongest in
Warrenpoint Warrenpoint ( ga, An Pointe) is a small port town and Civil parishes in Ireland, civil parish in County Down, Northern Ireland. It sits at the head of Carlingford Lough, south of Newry, and is separated from the Republic of Ireland by a narrow s ...
and
Newry Newry (; ) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routled ...
UDCs, winning control of the former in 1949 and the latter in 1958, retaining seats in both until their 1973 abolition. Tommy Markey was expelled from the party in 1964 for taking a salute as Newry council chair from the
Irish Guards The Irish Guards (IG), is one of the Foot Guards regiments of the British Army and is part of the Guards Division. Together with the Royal Irish Regiment (1992), Royal Irish Regiment, it is one of the two Irish infantry regiments in the British ...
. Party branches still existed in Warrenpoint and Newry as late as 1982, though candidates were heavily defeated in
Newry and Mourne District Council Newry and Mourne District Council ( ga, Comhairle an Iúir agus Mhúrn) was a local council in Northern Ireland. It merged with Down District Council in May 2015 under local government reorganisation in Northern Ireland to become Newry, Mourne a ...
at the 1973 local elections. The
Social Democratic and Labour Party The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) ( ga, Páirtí Sóisialta Daonlathach an Lucht Oibre) is a social-democratic Social democracy is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy within s ...
founded in 1970 took most of Irish Labour's voters and soon had its formal endorsement.


Under Brendan Corish, 1960–1977

Brendan Corish Brendan Corish (19 November 1918 – 17 February 1990) was an Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as Tánaiste and Minister for Health (Ireland), Minister for Health from 1973 to 1977, Leader of the Labour Party (Ire ...
became the new Labour leader in 1960. As leader, he advocated for more socialist policies to be adopted by the party; although initially tempering by this describing these policies as "a form of
Christian socialism Christian socialism is a Religious philosophy, religious and political philosophy that blends Christianity and socialism, endorsing left-wing politics and socialist economics on the basis of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. Many Christian s ...
", he would later feel comfortable enough to drop the "Christian" prefix. In contrast to his predecessors, Corish adopted an anti-coalition stance. He attempted to give his fractious, divided party a coherent national identity, lurched it to the left and insisted Labour was the natural party of
social justice Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as deposit (finance), ban ...
. In the late 1960s, Labour began to embrace the ‘
New Left The New Left was a broad political movement mainly in the 1960s and 1970s consisting of activists in the Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various s, s and , depending on the context, most often consisti ...
,’ and Corish presented his ''A New Republic'' document at the 1967 Labour national conference, alongside a famous speech which declared that "The seventies will be socialist", which later became a Labour campaign slogan. Corish's new socialist direction for Labour was generally well-received internally in the party; the membership's faith in Corish had already been bolstered by encouraging election results in
1965 Events January * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the . There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in s). This day is known as since the day marks the beginning of the year. __TOC__ ...
and
1967 Events January * January 1 – Canada begins a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, Confederation, featuring the Expo 67 World's Fair. * January 4 – The Doors release their début album ''The Doors ( ...
. However, there were a number of notable and vocal dissidents:
Patrick Norton Patrick Norton may refer to: *Patrick Daniel Norton (1876–1953), US politician from North Dakota * Patrick Norton (Irish politician) (born 1928), Irish Labour Party politician represented Kildare from 1965–1969 {{hndis, name=Norton, Patri ...
, Labour politician and son of former leader William ‘Bill’ Norton, accused the party of embracing “Cuban socialism” and left Labour in 1967, insisting it had been captured by “a small but vocal group of fellow travellers.” He joined Fianna Fáil. Following further accusations of being sympathetic to communism ahead of the 1969 general election, Labour politician
Brendan Halligan Brendan Halligan (5 July 1936 – 9 August 2020) was an Irish economist and politician. He was founder and president of the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), a think tank on European and international issues. He was presid ...
cited papal encyclicals, such as St. John XXIII’s ''Mater at Magistra'' to support Labour’s position. John O’Connell declared that in some respects Labour’s policies fell short of the standards of Pope John XIII and claimed that other Popes had advocated other policies like Labour’s document on workers’ democracy; if Labour was to be condemned as communist because of the policy document, he said that “we are content to stand condemned in the company of great Popes.” Despite Labour's hopeful expectations for a breakthrough, when the results of the
1969 Irish general election The 1969 Irish general election was held on 18 June 1969. The newly elected members of the 19th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 2 July when the new Taoiseach and Government of Ireland, government were appointed. The general election took pla ...
came in they were left sorely disappointed. Although their share of their vote had improved to 17%, the party's best share in 50 years, the party only won 17 seats, 5 less than what they had won in 1965 (having also put forward a previously unmatched multiplicity of candidates). The result dented Corish's confidence and caused him to reconsider his anti-coalition stance. Then Minister
Charles Haughey Charles James Haughey (; 16 September 1925 – 13 June 2006) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as Taoiseach on three occasions – 1979 to 1981, March to December 1982 and 1987 to 1992. He was also Minister for Children, Equality, ...

Charles Haughey
, Fianna Fáil’s director of elections in 1969, had utilised a report completed by Conrad Jameson Associates to ensure that Labour did not win over the support of their voters. Haughey particularly enjoyed attacking the new breed of Labour politicians, accusing them of offering the electorate “a form of extreme socialism which was old hat and had failed everywhere it had been tried”. He also asked why the Irish people “should turn the clock back and adopt such socialism just to satisfy the whims of a small coterie of left-wing intellectuals. The Labour Party wants controls, regulation, regimentation. This is what extreme left-wing socialism means. It is a joyless, soul destroying, materialistic concept of life.” In a final note to election organisers and every candidate in Dublin, Haughey stated that Fianna Fáil’s canvass showed that there were “deep divisions among former supporters of the Labour Party. Ordinary members in the constituencies were deeply suspicious and resentful of extreme left wing intellectuals who had been forced upon them from outside.” It was, he said “a battle between the party of Bill Norton and of those who wanted extreme socialism.” He urged every Fianna Fáil activist to stress the point that there were now two Labour parties, with left-wing extremists trying to take over the “traditional party.” This message proved to be brutally effective. In the aftermath of the election, cynics mocked the Labour Party and suggested that they should rephrase the party’s new slogan ‘The Seventies Will be Socialist’ as ‘The Socialists Will be Seventy’. Labour promoted a Eurosceptic outlook in the 1961 general election, and in 1972, the party campaigned against membership of the
European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organization and Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece ...

European Economic Community
(EEC). Between 1973 and 1977, the Labour Party formed a
coalition government A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate to form a government. The usual reason for such an arrangement is that no single party has achieved an absolute majority after an election An election is a ...
with Fine Gael. The coalition partners lost the subsequent 1977 general election, and Corish resigned immediately after the defeat.


Late 1970s and 1980s: Coalition, internal feuding, electoral decline and regrowth

In 1977, shortly after the election defeat, members grouped around the Liaison Committee for the Labour Left split from Labour and formed the short-lived Socialist Labour Party. From 1981 to 1982 and from 1982 to 1987, the Labour Party participated in coalition governments with
Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
. In the later part of the second of these coalition terms, the country's poor economic and fiscal situation required strict curtailing of
government spending Government spending or expenditure includes all government consumption, investment, and transfer payments. In national income accounting A variety of measures of national income and output are used in economics to estimate total economic activit ...
, and the Labour Party bore much of the blame for unpopular cutbacks in
health Health, according to the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each ...

health
and other
public services A public service is a Service (economics), service intended to serve all members of a community. Public services include services provided by a government to people living within its jurisdiction, either directly through public sector agencies o ...
. The nadir for the Labour party was the 1987 general election where it received only 6.4% of the vote. Its vote was increasingly threatened by the growth of the Marxist and more radical
Workers' Party Workers' Party is a name used by several political party, political parties throughout the world. The name has been used by both organisations on the left and right of the political spectrum. It is currently used by followers of Marxism, Marxism-Le ...
, particularly in Dublin. Fianna Fáil formed a
minority government A minority government, minority cabinet, minority administration, or a minority parliament is a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Art ...
from 1987 to 1989 and then a coalition with the
Progressive Democrats The Progressive Democrats ( ga, An Páirtí Daonlathach, literally The Democratic Party, PDs) was a conservative-liberal Conservative liberalism or right-liberalism is a variant of liberalism, combining liberal values and policies with Cons ...
. The 1980s saw fierce disagreements between the wings of the party. The more radical elements, Labour Left, led by such figures as
Emmet Stagg Emmet Stagg (born 1 October 1944) is an Irish former Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as Labour Party Chief Whip from 2007 to 2016, 24th Government of Ireland, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Energy a ...
,
Sam Nolan Sam Nolan (born 1930) is the secretary of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and a political activist. Biography Born in Dublin, Nolan became active in the Irish Workers' League soon after World War II, and was a member of its Executive Committe ...
, Frank Buckley and
Helena Sheehan Helena Sheehan is an Academia, academic philosopher, History of science, historian of science, philosophy, culture and politics. Sheehan is Professor Emeritus at Dublin City University, where she taught media studies and history of ideas in the Sc ...
, and Militant Tendency, led by
Joe Higgins Joe Higgins (born 20 May 1949) is an Irish former Socialist Party (Ireland), Socialist Party politician who served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin West (Dáil constituency), Dublin West constituency from 1997 to 2007 and from 2011 to 201 ...

Joe Higgins
, opposed the idea of Labour entering into coalition government with either of the major
centre-right Centre-right politics (British English) or center-right politics (American English), also referred to as moderate-right politics, lean to the Right-wing politics, right of the Left–right politics, political spectrum, but are closer to the Centr ...
parties (Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael). At the 1989 Labour Party conference in
Tralee Tralee ( ; ga, Trá Lí, ; formerly , meaning 'strand of the Lee River') is the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage ...

Tralee
a number of
socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive pr ...
and
Trotskyist Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch of Marxism developed by Ukrainian-Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and by some other members of the Left Opposition and Fourth International. Trotsky self-identified as an Orthodox Marxism, orth ...
activists, organised around the
Militant Tendency The Militant tendency, or Militant, was a Trotskyism, Trotskyist group in the British Labour Party (UK), Labour Party, organised around the ''Militant'' newspaper, which launched in 1964. According to Michael Crick, its politics were based on the t ...
and their internal newspaper, were expelled. These expulsions continued during the early 1990s and those expelled, including Joe Higgins, went on to found the
Socialist Party Socialist Party is the name of many different political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas a ...
.


1990s: Growing political influence and involvement

The early 1990s saw a sustained period of growth for the Labour Party. In 1990 former Labour Senator
Mary Robinson Mary Therese Winifred Robinson ( ga, Máire Mhic Róibín; ; born 21 May 1944) is an Irish independent politician An independent or non-partisan politician is a politician not affiliated with any political party. There are numerous reasons ...
became the first
President of Ireland The president of Ireland ( ga, Uachtarán na hÉireann) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the publi ...
to have been proposed by the Labour Party. Although she had contested the election as an independent candidate, having resigned from the party over her opposition to the Anglo Irish Agreement, her victory was generally considered as reflecting very well on Labour, who had supported her campaign. Not only was it the first time a woman held the office but it was the first time, apart from
Douglas Hyde Douglas Ross Hyde ( ga, Dubhghlas de hÍde; 17 January 1860 – 12 July 1949), known as ''An Craoibhín Aoibhinn'' (lit. "the pleasant little branch"), was an Irish academic, linguist, scholar of the Irish language, politician and diplomat wh ...
, that a non-
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conser ...
candidate was elected. It was also in 1990 that
Limerick East Limerick (; ga, Luimneach ) is a city in County Limerick, Ireland. It is located in the Mid-West Region, Ireland, Mid-West Region and is also part of the Provinces of Ireland, province of Munster. With a population of 94,192 at the 2016 census, ...
TD
Jim Kemmy James Kemmy (1 September 1936 – 25 September 1997) was an Irish Socialism, socialist politician from Limerick, who started his political career in the Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party. He later left Labour, was elected as an Independent po ...
's Democratic Socialist Party merged into the Labour Party, and in 1992 Sligo–Leitrim TD
Declan Bree Declan Bree (born 1 July 1951) is an Irish Independent politicians in Ireland, independent politician. He was a founder of the Sligo/Leitrim Independent Socialist Organisation in 1974, and was a member of that group until joining the Labour Part ...
's Independent Socialist Party also followed suit and joined the Labour Party. At the 1992 general election the Labour Party won a record 19.3% of the first preference votes, more than twice its share in the 1989 general election. The party's representation in the Dáil doubled to 33 seats in a momentum swing dubbed by the Irish national media as the "Spring Tide", who attributed much of the surge in the party's popularity to its leader
Dick Spring Dick Spring (born 29 August 1950) is an Irish businessman and former politician. He was a Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party Teachta Dála (TD) for the Kerry North (Dáil constituency), Kerry North from 1981 to 2002. He became leader of the ...
. After a period of negotiations, the Labour Party formed a coalition with
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conser ...
, taking office in January 1993 as the
23rd Government of Ireland The 1992 general election was held on 25 November 1992. The 23rd Government of Ireland The Government of Ireland ( ga, Rialtas na hÉireann) is the cabinet (government), cabinet that exercises executive (government), executive authority in Rep ...
. Fianna Fáil leader
Albert Reynolds Albert Reynolds (3 November 1932 – 21 August 2014) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as Taoiseach from 1992 to 1994, Leader of Fianna Fáil from 1992 to 1994, Minister for Finance (Ireland), Minister for Finance from 1988 to 199 ...
remained as
Taoiseach The Taoiseach is the prime minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a p ...
, and Labour Party leader Dick Spring became
Tánaiste The Tánaiste ( , ) is the deputy head of the government of Ireland The Government of Ireland ( ga, Rialtas na hÉireann) is the cabinet (government), cabinet that exercises executive (government), executive authority in Republic of Ireland, I ...
and
Minister for Foreign Affairs A foreign affairs minister or minister of foreign affairs (less commonly minister for foreign affairs) is generally a Cabinet (government), cabinet Minister (government), minister in charge of a sovereign state, state's foreign policy and foreign ...
. After less than two years the government fell in a controversy over the appointment of
Attorney General #REDIRECT Attorney general In most common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinio ...
,
Harry Whelehan Harry Whelehan (born 17 February 1944) is an Irish barrister and judge who served as High Court (Ireland), President of the High Court from 15 November 1994 to 17 November 1994, a Judge of the High Court (Ireland), High Court from November 1994 t ...
, as president of the
High Court High court usually refers to the superior court In common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal ...
. The parliamentary arithmetic had changed as a result of Fianna Fáil's loss of two seats in by-elections in June, where the Labour Party itself had performed disastrously. On the pretext that the Labour Party voters were not happy with involvement with Fianna Fáil, Dick Spring withdrew his support for Reynolds as Taoiseach. The Labour Party negotiated a new coalition, the first time in Irish political history that one coalition replaced another without a general election. Between 1994 and 1997
Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
, the Labour Party, and Democratic Left governed in the
24th Government of Ireland The 24th Government of Ireland (15 December 1994 – 26 June 1997) was the 2nd Government of the Members of the 27th Dáil, 27th Dáil. Known as the Rainbow Coalition, it was a coalition government, coalition of Fine Gael, the Labour Party (Irelan ...
. Dick Spring became Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs again.


Merger with Democratic Left

The Labour Party presented the
1997 general election1997 general election may refer to: * 1997 Canadian federal election * 1997 Irish general election * 1997 Singaporean general election * 1997 United Kingdom general election {{Disambiguation ...
, held just weeks after spectacular electoral victories for the French
Socialist Party Socialist Party is the name of many different political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas a ...
and British
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
, as the first-ever choice between a government of the left and one of the right; but the party, as had often been the case following its participation in coalitions, lost support and lost half of its TDs. Labour's losses were so severe that while Fine Gael gained seats, it still came up well short of the support it needed to keep Bruton in office. This, combined with a poor showing by Labour Party candidate
Adi Roche Adi Patricia Roche (born 11 July 1955) is an Irish activist, anti-nuclear advocate, and campaigner for peace, humanitarian aid Humanitarian aid is material and logistic assistance to people who need help. It is usually short-term help un ...
in the subsequent election for
President of Ireland The president of Ireland ( ga, Uachtarán na hÉireann) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the publi ...
, led to Spring's resignation as party leader. In 1997
Ruairi Quinn Ruairi Quinn (born 2 April 1946) is an Irish former Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as Minister for Education (Ireland), Minister for Education and Skills from 2011 to 2014, Leader of the Labour Party (Ireland), Leader ...

Ruairi Quinn
became the new Labour Party leader. Following negotiations in 1999, the Labour Party merged with Democratic Left, keeping the name of the larger partner. This had been previously opposed by the former leader Dick Spring. Members of Democratic Left in Northern Ireland were invited to join the Irish Labour Party but were not permitted to organise. Quinn resigned as leader in 2002 following the poor results for the Labour Party in the 2002 general election. Former Democratic Left TD
Pat Rabbitte Pat Rabbitte (born 18 May 1949) is an Irish former Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources from 2011 to 2014, Leader of the Labour Party (Ireland), Leader of the Lab ...

Pat Rabbitte
became the new leader, the first to be elected directly by the members of the party.


Rabbitte as leader '02 to '07

Prior to the 2004 local elections, party leader Pat Rabbitte had endorsed a mutual transfer pact with Fine Gael leader
Enda Kenny Enda Kenny (born 24 April 1951) is an Irish former Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon ...

Enda Kenny
. Rabbitte proposed an extension of this strategy, named "the
Mullingar Mullingar ( ; ) is the county town of County Westmeath in Republic of Ireland, Ireland. It is the 3rd most populous town in the Midlands, Ireland, Midlands region, with a population of 20,928 in the 2016 census. The Counties of Meath and Wes ...
Accord", going into the 2007 general election. Although Rabbitte's strategy was opposed by some influential members such as
Brendan Howlin Brendan Howlin (born 9 May 1956) is an Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Wexford (Dáil constituency), Wexford constituency since 1987. He previously served as Leader of the Labour Pa ...
it was supported by approximately 80% of Labour conference delegates. However, at 2007 general election the Labour Party failed to increase its seat total and had a net loss of 1 seat, returning with 20 seats. Fine Gael, the Labour Party, the
Green Party A Green party is a formally organized political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about p ...
and independents did not have enough seats to form a government. Pat Rabbitte resisted calls to enter negotiations with
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conser ...
on forming a government. Eventually, Fianna Fáil entered government with the
Progressive Democrats The Progressive Democrats ( ga, An Páirtí Daonlathach, literally The Democratic Party, PDs) was a conservative-liberal Conservative liberalism or right-liberalism is a variant of liberalism, combining liberal values and policies with Cons ...
and the Green Party with the support of independents. In the aftermath, Rabbitte resigned as Labour Party leader in late August, taking responsibility for the general election result. In his wake
Eamon Gilmore Eamon Gilmore (born 24 April 1955) is an Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who serves as European Union Special Representative#Human Rights, European Union Special Representative for Human Rights since February 2019. He previ ...

Eamon Gilmore
was elected, unopposed, as the new Labour leader.


Gilmore as leader '07 to 2014


Initial surge of support

Following the onset of the
post-2008 Irish economic downturn The post-2008 Irish economic downturn in the Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identif ...
, Labour's political fortunes began to alter rapidly. At the
local elections In many parts of the world, local elections take place to select office-holders in local government, such as mayors and councillors. Elections to positions within a city or town are often known as "municipal elections". Their form and conduct var ...
of 5 June 2009, the Labour Party added 31 new councillors to their tally and performed particularly well in the Dublin region. At the
2009 European Parliament election Elections in the European Union, Elections to the European Parliament were held in the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) between 4 and 7 June 2009. A total of 736 Member of the European Parliament, Members of the European Parliament (ME ...
held on the same day, the Labour Party increased its number of seats from one to three, retaining the seat of
Proinsias De Rossa Proinsias De Rossa (born 15 May 1940) is a former Irish Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua ...

Proinsias De Rossa
in the , while gaining seats in the with
Nessa Childers Nessa Maria Vereker Childers (born 9 October 1956) is an Irish Independent politicians in Ireland, Independent politician who served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2009 to 2019. Early life She is the daughter of the fourth Pr ...
, and in the
South constituency South Constituency ( is, Suðurkjördæmi ) is one of the six Constituencies of Iceland, constituencies of Iceland. Its major town is Keflavík. It elects 10 members to the Althing. Geography It is the only constituency bordering with all the othe ...

South constituency
with Alan Kelly. It was the first time since the 1979 European Parliament Elections that Labour had equalled the number of seats held in Europe by either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. On 11 June 2010, a poll by MRBI was published in ''
The Irish Times ''The Irish Times'' is an Irish daily broadsheet newspaper and online digital publication. It launched on 29 March 1859. The editor is Paul O'Neill. The deputy editor is Deirdre Veldon. It is published every day except Sundays. Though formed as ...
'' which, for the first time in the history of the state, showed the Labour Party as the most popular, at 32%, ahead of Fine Gael at 28% and Fianna Fáil at 17%. Eamon Gilmore's approval ratings were also the highest of any Dáil leader, standing at 46%.


Entering government in 2011 and subsequent decline in support

At the
2011 general election This national electoral calendar for the year 2011 lists the national/federal direct elections held in 2011 in the ''de jure'' and ''de facto'' list of sovereign states, sovereign states and their Dependent territory, dependent territories. By-ele ...
, Labour received 19.5% of first preference votes, and 37 seats. It was the most amount of seats the Labour party had ever won in the Dáil, and their highest percentage of first-preference-votes since the Spring Tide of 1992. On 9 March 2011, it became the junior partner in a
coalition government A coalition government is a form of government in which political parties cooperate to form a government. The usual reason for such an arrangement is that no single party has achieved an absolute majority after an election An election is a ...
with Fine Gael for the period of the
31st Dáil 31 (thirty-one) is the natural number In mathematics, the natural numbers are those numbers used for counting (as in "there are ''six'' coins on the table") and total order, ordering (as in "this is the ''third'' largest city in the country" ...
. Eamon Gilmore was appointed as
Tánaiste The Tánaiste ( , ) is the deputy head of the government of Ireland The Government of Ireland ( ga, Rialtas na hÉireann) is the cabinet (government), cabinet that exercises executive (government), executive authority in Republic of Ireland, I ...
(deputy prime minister) and
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade The Minister for Foreign Affairs ( ga, An tAire Gnóthaí Eachtracha) is the senior minister (government), minister at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Ireland), Department of Foreign Affairs in the Government of Ireland. The Minister's offic ...
. In October 2011 the Labour Party's candidate, Michael D. Higgins was elected as the 9th
President of Ireland The president of Ireland ( ga, Uachtarán na hÉireann) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the publi ...
. On the same day, Labour's
Patrick Nulty Patrick Nulty (born 18 November 1982) is a teacher, university lecturer and former Irish Labour Youth, Labour Party politician. He was elected as a Teachta Dála (TD) for Dublin West (Dáil constituency), Dublin West at 2011 Dublin West by-electio ...
won the Dublin West by-election, making the Labour Party the first government party in Ireland to win a by-election since 1982. Labour lost seven parliamentary members over the course of the 31st Dáil. On 15 November 2011 Willie Penrose resigned over the closure of an army barracks in his constituency. On 1 December 2011
Tommy Broughan Thomas Broughan (born 1 August 1947) is a former Irish Independent politician who served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1992 to 2020. He sat as a TD for the Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party until late 2011, representing the Dublin North-East ...
lost the party whip after voting against the government in relation to the Bank Guarantee Scheme. On 6 December 2011
Patrick Nulty Patrick Nulty (born 18 November 1982) is a teacher, university lecturer and former Irish Labour Youth, Labour Party politician. He was elected as a Teachta Dála (TD) for Dublin West (Dáil constituency), Dublin West at 2011 Dublin West by-electio ...
lost the party whip after voting against the VAT increase in the 2012 budget. On 26 September 2012 Róisín Shortall resigned as Minister of State for Primary Care and lost the party whip after conflict with the
Minister for Health A health minister is the member of a country's government typically responsible for protecting and promoting public health and providing welfare and other social security services. Some governments have separate Minister of Mental Health, Ministers ...
James Reilly. On 13 December 2012
Colm Keaveney Colm Keaveney (born 11 January 1971) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He was elected as a Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party Teachta Dála (TD) for the Galway East (Dáil constituency), Galway East constituency at the 2011 Irish general elect ...
lost the party whip after voting against the cut to the respite care grant in the 2013 budget. Senator James Heffernan lost the party whip in December 2012 after voting against the government on the Social Welfare Bill. MEP
Nessa Childers Nessa Maria Vereker Childers (born 9 October 1956) is an Irish Independent politicians in Ireland, Independent politician who served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2009 to 2019. Early life She is the daughter of the fourth Pr ...
resigned from the parliamentary party on 5 April 2013, saying that she "no longer wantto support a Government that is actually hurting people", and she resigned from the party in July 2013. In June 2013, Patrick Nulty and Colm Keaveney resigned from the Labour Party. Willie Penrose returned to the parliamentary Labour Party in October 2013. On 26 May 2014, Gilmore resigned as party leader after Labour's poor performance in the
European European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by conven ...
and
local elections In many parts of the world, local elections take place to select office-holders in local government, such as mayors and councillors. Elections to positions within a city or town are often known as "municipal elections". Their form and conduct var ...
. On 4 July 2014,
Joan Burton Joan Burton (born 1 February 1949) is a former Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as Tánaiste and Leader of the Labour Party (Ireland), Leader of the Labour Party from 2014 to 2016, Minister for Social Protection ...

Joan Burton
won the
leadership election A leadership election is a political contest held in various countries by which the members of a political party determine who will be the leader of their party. Generally, any political party can determine its own rules governing how and when a l ...
, defeating Alex White by 78% to 22%. On her election, she said that the Labour Party "would focus on social repair, and govern more with the heart". Burton was the first woman to lead the Labour Party.


2016 general election

In the 2016 general election, Labour achieved a poor result, receiving only 6.6% of first preference votes, and 7 seats. It was the worst general election in its history, with a loss of 30 seats on its showing in 2011.


Recent history

On 20 May 2016,
Brendan Howlin Brendan Howlin (born 9 May 1956) is an Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Wexford (Dáil constituency), Wexford constituency since 1987. He previously served as Leader of the Labour Pa ...
was elected unopposed as leader; some controversy arose from the fact that there was no contest for the leadership because none of his parliamentary colleagues were prepared to second the nomination of Alan Kelly. Howlin stated that as leader he was prepared to bring Labour back into government, citing the lack of influence on policy from opposition. He denied any suggestions that Labour could lose any further support from their 2016 performance, stating "We’re not some outfit that comes out of the morning mist and disappears again. We're the oldest party in the state". In the Local and European Elections of May 2019, despite a decreased vote share by 1.4%, Labour increased their seat count on local authorities to 57, an increase of 6. This maintained Labour's position as the country's 4th-largest party at local government level. However, the party failed to win a European seat with their three candidates, Alex White, Sheila Nunan and
Dominic Hannigan Dominic Hannigan (born 10 July 1965) is a former Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Meath East (Dáil constituency), Meath East constituency from 2011 to 2016. He was a Seanad Éirean ...
, leaving the S&D Group unrepresented by an Irish MEP for the first time since 1984. At the February 2020 election, the party's first preference vote dropped to 4.4%, a record low. While the party made gains in Dublin Bay North and
Louth Louth is the name of several locations around the world: Australia *Hundred of Louth, a cadastral unit in South Australia * Louth, New South Wales, a town *Louth Bay, a bay in South Australia **Louth Bay, South Australia, a town and locality Cana ...
,
Joan Burton Joan Burton (born 1 February 1949) is a former Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as Tánaiste and Leader of the Labour Party (Ireland), Leader of the Labour Party from 2014 to 2016, Minister for Social Protection ...

Joan Burton
and
Jan O'Sullivan Jan O'Sullivan (; born 6 December 1950) is a former Irish Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antig ...

Jan O'Sullivan
both lost their seats and the party failed to retain its seat in Longford-Westmeath caused by the retirement of Willie Penrose. In addition former TDs
Emmet Stagg Emmet Stagg (born 1 October 1944) is an Irish former Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as Labour Party Chief Whip from 2007 to 2016, 24th Government of Ireland, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Energy a ...
, Joanna Tuffy, and Joe Costello failed to re-capture the seats they lost in 2016. In the subsequent Seanad elections, Labour won 5 seats, which tied them with
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
as the third-largest party in the House. After the General Election, Brendan Howlin announced his intention to step down as the leader of the Labour Party. On 3 April 2020 Alan Kelly was elected as party leader, edging out fellow Dáil colleague
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (; born 22 July 1976) is an Irish Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua an ...

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
55% to 45%. In 2021, the party gained a seventh TD in the Dáil after
Ivana Bacik Ivana Catherine Bacik (born 25 May 1968) is an Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin Bay South (Dáil constituency), Dublin Bay South constituency since winning a 2021 Dublin Bay S ...

Ivana Bacik
won the
2021 Dublin Bay South by-election A by-election was held in the Dáil Éireann constituency of Dublin Bay South (Dáil constituency), Dublin Bay South in Republic of Ireland, Ireland on Thursday, 8 July 2021, to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of the Fine Gael Teachta ...
.


Ideology and policies


Overview

The Labour Party is a party of the centre-left which has been described as a social democratic party but is referred to in its constitution as a democratic socialist party. Its constitution refers to the party as a "movement of democratic socialists, social democrats, environmentalists, progressives, feminists (and) trade unionists". It has been described as a “big tent” party by the ''Irish Independent''. The stance of the Labour Party has changed dramatically over time. In 1964, American historian Emmet Larkin described the Irish Labour Party as “the most opportunistically conservative Labour Party anywhere in the known world,” due to its Catholic outlook in an Ireland where 95 percent of the population was Roman Catholic. It was known for its longstanding unwillingness (along with Ireland's other major parties) to support any policy that could be construed as sympathetic to secularism or communism. However, from the 1980s it was associated with advocacy for socially liberal policies, with former leader Eamon Gilmore stating in 2007 that “more than any other political movement, it was Labour and its allies which drove the modernization of the Irish state.” In the past Labour has been referred to, derisively, as “the political wing of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.” That Labour was influenced by Catholicism is not unusual in the Irish context (likewise, both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were also products of a predominantly Catholic society). Labour's ethos and often its language was profoundly Christian. Following the official separation of the Irish Labour Party and Irish Trade Union Congress into two different organisations in 1930, early drafts of Labour's constitution referred to the responsibilities of the ‘Christian state’, but these had all been removed by the time the constitution was put before the new party's conference for approval. However, the Free State's commitment to a full-scale devotional revival of Catholicism was reflected in the outlook and policies of the party. The ‘ Starry Plough,’ the traditional symbol of Labour, reflects a Catholic tradition and biblical reference to Isaiah 2:3-4, which is integral to its design. Like Fianna Fáil, Labour embraced
corporatist Corporatism is a collectivist Collectivism is a value that is characterized by emphasis on cohesiveness among individuals and prioritization of the group over the self. Individuals or groups that subscribe to a collectivist worldview tend t ...
policies, again influenced by the Catholic Church. This was deemed to be important for both in terms of winning electoral support from the lower and middle classes. However, Labour later became associated with increasing secularism and championing socially liberal causes in relation to contraception, divorce, LGBT rights and abortion. Its support base also shifted greatly towards postmaterialists. The Labour Party also changed its position from Euroscepticism in 1972 to pro-Europeanism and ideological integration with European social-democratic parties.


LGBT rights policies

The Labour Party has been involved in various campaigns for LGBT rights and put forward many bills. The party was in government in 1993 when homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland, and it was President Mary Robinson, herself a longstanding LGBT advocate, who signed the bill into law.
Mervyn Taylor Mervyn Taylor (28 December 1931 – 23 September 2021) was an Irish Labour Party (Ireland), Labour Party politician who served as Minister for Labour (Ireland), Minister for Equality and Law Reform from 1993 to 1994 and from 1994 to 1997. He se ...
published the Employment Equality Bill in 1996, which was enacted in 1998, outlawing discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of sexual orientation. Taylor also published the Equal Status Bill in 1997, enacted in 2000, outlawing discrimination in the provision of goods and services on grounds listed including sexual orientation. At the 2002 general election, only the manifestos of the
Green Party A Green party is a formally organized political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about p ...
and Labour explicitly referred to the rights of same-sex couples. In 2003, Labour LGBT was founded. This was the first time a political party in Ireland had formed an LGBT wing. In December 2006, Labour TD Brendan Howlin tabled a private member's civil unions bill in
Dáil Éireann Dáil Éireann ( , ; ) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community i ...
, proposing the legalization of civil partnerships and adoption for same-sex couples. The Fianna Fáil government amended the bill to delay it for six months time, however the Dáil was dissolved for the
2007 Irish general election The 2007 Irish general election took place on Thursday, 24 May after the Dissolution of parliament, dissolution of the Members of the 29th Dáil, 29th Dáil by the President of Ireland, President on 30 April, at the request of the Taoiseach. The ...
before this could happen. Labour again brought this bill before the Dáil in 2007 but it was voted down by the government, with the
Green Party A Green party is a formally organized political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about p ...
, who had formerly supported gay marriage, also voting in opposition to the bill, with spokesperson
Ciarán Cuffe Ciarán Cuffe (born 3 April 1963) is an Irish politician who has been a Member of the European Parliament A Member of the European Parliament (MEP) is a person who has been elected to serve as a popular representative in the European Par ...
arguing that the bill was unconstitutional. At their 2010 national conference Labour passed a motion calling for transgender rights and to legislate for a gender recognition act. During their time in government, Ireland became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote.


Social policies

Labour supported the repeal of the
Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1983 was an Amendments to the Constitution of Ireland, amendment to the Constitution of Ireland which inserted a subsection recognising the equal right to life of the pregnant woman and the prenatal d ...
in 2018 to legalize abortion, and canvassed for a Yes vote in that referendum. Alan Kelly sponsored a bill in 2020 that called for all workers to receive a legal right to sick pay, as well as paid leave for employees whose children have to stay home from school due to
COVID-19 Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease A contagious disease is a disease A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure A structure is an arrangement and organization o ...

COVID-19
measures. The government amended this bill to delay it for six months, a decision that senator
Marie Sherlock Marie Sherlock is an Irish Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party A ...
branded as "unacceptable".


Education policies

In 2020, Labour TD Aodhán Ó Riordáin successfully campaigned for Ireland's free school meals campaign to be extended across summer. Labour have called for all primary education to be made free by providing grants for books, uniforms and students, and ending the two tier pay system for teachers and secretaries.


Housing policies

In 2020, Labour proposed building 80,000 social and affordable houses, investing €16 billion into housing and freezing rents. In 2021, they called for a three-year rent freeze and a tax to be placed on vacant houses, as well as investment into student housing and preventing student housing from being converted to short term rentals.


Health policies

In their 2020 manifesto, Labour proposed spending an additional 1 billion euro per year on health and delivering free GP care for all under 18s. In 2021, Labour proposed nationalising two hospitals - one in Dublin and one in either Galway or Cork.


Climate policies

In their climate manifesto in 2020, the party called for halving the country's emissions by 2030, supporting farms transitioning to more environmental forms of farming, restoring peatlands and bogs, banning offshore drilling and supporting a just transition.


Drug policies

In 2017, Labour leader Brendan Howlin became the first traditional party leader to back the full decriminalization of cannabis in Ireland. This came after a motion endorsed by Aodhán O'Riordáin supporting the legalization of cannabis for recreational usage was passed at Labour conference. O'Riordáin had previously voiced his support for the decriminalization of all drugs, stating that "About 70 per cent of the drugs cases that are before our courts at the moment are for possession for personal use, which to be honest is a complete waste of garda time and criminal justice time", saying that someone suffering from addiction "is fundamentally a patient, who should be surrounded by compassion, not somebody who should be sitting in a court room." The current party leader Alan Kelly has previously stated that he supports the legalisation of marijuana in Ireland on both medicinal and recreational grounds. In their 2020 manifesto, Labour called for expanding public access to anti-overdose drugs such as Naloxone, and ending criminalisation for possession of small amounts of drugs, but focusing on punishing drug trafficking.


Cultural policies

The party has called for a campaign to promote the usage of spoken Irish, funding outreach initiatives for minorities and marginalised communities and creating a fund for artists.


Historical archives

The Labour Party donated its archives to the National Library of Ireland in 2012. The records can be accessed by means of the call number: MS 49,494. Subsequently, the records of Democratic Left were also donated to the library and can be access via the call number: MS 49,807.


Electoral results


Dáil Éireann


European Parliament


Northern Ireland


Westminster (House of Commons)


Stormont (Parliament of Northern Ireland)


Structure

The Labour Party is a membership organisation consisting of Labour ( Dáil) constituency councils, affiliated trade unions and Socialist society (Labour Party), socialist societies. Members who are elected to parliamentary positions (Dáil, Seanad, European Parliament) form the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). The party's decision-making bodies on a national level formally include the executive board (formerly known as the National Executive Committee), Labour Party Conference and Central Council. The executive board has responsibility for organisation and finance, with the Central Council being responsible for policy formation – although in practice the Parliamentary leadership has the final say on policy. The Labour Party Conference debates motions put forward by branches, constituency councils, party members sections and affiliates. Motions set principles of policy and organisation but are not generally detailed policy statements. For many years Labour held to a policy of not allowing residents of Northern Ireland to apply for membership, instead supporting the
Social Democratic and Labour Party The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) ( ga, Páirtí Sóisialta Daonlathach an Lucht Oibre) is a social-democratic Social democracy is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy within s ...
(SDLP). The National Conference approved the establishment of a Northern Ireland Members Forum but it has not agreed to contest elections there. As a party with a constitutional commitment to democratic socialism founded by trade unions to represent the interests of working class people, Labour's link with unions has always been a defining characteristic of the party. Over time this link has come under increasing strain, with most craft based unions based in the public sector and Irish Congress of Trades Unions having disaffiliated since the 1950s. The remaining affiliated unions are primarily private sector general unions. Currently affiliated unions still send delegates to the National Conference in proportion to the size of their membership. Recent constitutional changes mean that in future, affiliated unions will send delegations based on the number of party members in their organisation.


Sections

Within the Labour Party there are different sections: *Labour Youth *Labour Women *Labour Trade Unionists *Labour Councillors *Labour Equality (this section also includes groups such as Labour LGBT) *Labour Disability


Affiliates

The Irish Labour Party constitution makes provision for both Trade Unions and Socialist Societies to affiliate to the party. There are currently seven Trade Unions affiliated to the Party: *Munster & District Graphical Society *Fórsa (Municipal Employees Division) *National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) *GMB (trade union), General, Municipal and Boilermakers' Union (GMB) *Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) *Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFWAU) *Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) Socialist Societies Affiliated to the Party: *Labour Party Lawyers Group *Association of Labour Teachers *Labour Social Services Group


Leadership


Party leader

The following are the terms of office as party leader and as Tánaiste:


Deputy leader


Seanad leader


Elected Representatives


Parliamentary Labour Party

The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) is the section of the party that is made up of its members of the Oireachtas, Houses of the Oireachtas and of the European Parliament. As of July 2021 there are 11 members of the PLP: 7 TDs and 4 Seanad Éireann, Senators. Labour Party TDs in the Members of the 33rd Dáil, 33rd Dáil Éireann (2020- ) Labour Party Senators in the Members of the 26th Seanad, 26th Seanad Éireann (2020- )


Front Bench


Councillors

At the 2014 Irish local elections, 2014 local elections Labour lost more than half of local authority seats; 51 councillors were elected - this result led to the resignation of party leader, Eamon Gilmore. Following the 2019 Irish local elections, the party had 567 local representatives.


See also

* History of the Labour Party (Ireland) * Democratic Left (Ireland) *
Social Democratic and Labour Party The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) ( ga, Páirtí Sóisialta Daonlathach an Lucht Oibre) is a social-democratic Social democracy is a Political philosophy, political, Social philosophy, social, and economic philosophy within s ...
(Northern Ireland)


References


Further reading

*


External links

*
Labour Youth – Youth section
{{Authority control Labour Party (Ireland), 1912 establishments in Ireland Full member parties of the Socialist International Centre-left parties in Europe Labour parties in Ireland, Party of European Socialists member parties Political parties established in 1912 Political parties in the Republic of Ireland Progressive Alliance Pro-European political parties in Ireland Social democratic parties in Europe Social democratic parties in Ireland