A Labour councillor has called for a change of leadership in his party as he fears it is “sleepwalking towards oblivion”.
Portlaoise based councillor Noel Tuohy has issued a statement seeking a leadership contest to replace Brendan Howlin, saying that “at 3% the Labour Party is close to implosion and more than two years on from the last general election there is no sign of the promised dynamic rebuild”.
Mr Tuohy was first elected at the last local elections in 2014 with 685 first preference votes.
Speaking to RTÉ News, he said that he has “great respect for Brendan Howlin as a person but it just has not worked. He has not connected with the people.
“We are now on 3% in the polls, that is the half what we got in the last general election.”
Mr Tuohy said that even though Labour has just seven TDs, he believes there a few alternative options for the leadership.
“I would personally support Alan Kelly if the position of leader was vacant,” he added.
In a statement issued last night, the former prison officer called for a democratic leadership contest so the party can “revive, restore and refocus itself in the Autumn or else, I fear, we will become totally irrelevant as a political force in our country.”
He added: “In my opinion, Brendan Howlin is a man of considerable acumen and of the utmost integrity who has served his country and constituency with distinction. However I now believe the time has come for a change as, unfortunately, Labour has failed to connect with the electorate.
“We cannot be oblivious or blind to the current standing and status of our once great and formidable party in the court of public opinion languishing now within the margin of error at 3%.
“At 3% the Labour Party is close to implosion and more than two years on from the last general election there is no sign of the promised dynamic rebuild.
“As one of only 50 councillors in the country, the only one in Laois/Offaly I feel it would remiss of me to remain silent in the face of what is happening.”
He said there is a place and an important role for the values and policies of “a vibrant representative and vigorous Labour Party on the Irish political spectrum”.
He added: “It is time for Brendan to facilitate a proper democratic leadership election. This would be good not only for the Labour Party, this would be important for our country as well. Otherwise, I regretfully fear that the Labour Party is sleepwalking towards oblivion.
“We cannot lose the founding principles, policies and values that those who support us hold so dear.”