Labour not expected to change decision to stay in opposition

Recently elected Labour leader Alan Kelly

The Labour parliamentary party will hold a teleconference this week, the first meeting since Alan Kelly’s election as leader, with the question of whether the party should join a coalition government set to be discussed.

When he was elected leader of the party late last Friday Mr Kelly said he did not believe that Labour would be best served going into government at this time.

“As leader I will, of course, continue to engage with all parties but when it comes to forming a government we have been very clear since the general election, that it is up to other parties to take their responsibilities seriously and it is up to them to form a stable government.

It seems that some parties are more interested in playing politics than solving the crisis the people of this country face.

Party sources say that position has not changed after the weekend and that it would "take a lot" for Labour to be brought to the negotiating table at this time.

The party’’s six TDs held a private meeting last Tuesday in advance of the result of the election being announced where a preference that Labour join the opposition benches was expressed.

It is understood that no TD has shifted from their position, despite Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying that a third party in government is necessary. 

Mr Varadkar said today that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will reach out to Labour, the Green Party and the Social Democrats when they agree a policy document which is expected to be this week.

Indeed, some within Labour see a situation where Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour would team with a group of politically diverse independents to form a government as creating what one source called "a crowded playing field". 

Concern has been raised about how Labour would see its influence exerted on its key policy priorities.

There is also some reticence to go into a coalition government which may have to impose an austerity budget this year, though Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will both try to avoid this. 

Of Labour’’s six TDs, all but Dublin Fingal’’s Duncan Smith were part of the 31st government, the end of which saw Labour lose nearly 30 Dáil seats.

There is also some belief that Mr Kelly can be more effective in this Dáil from the opposition benches.

He has proved himself to be a prominent voice on matters from Cervicalcheck to Garda whistleblowers and has been a leading member of the Public Accounts Committee.

One party source says that Mr Kelly can be a "leader from the opposition benches" as Labour seeks to rebuild its Dáil presence.