Discontent in Labour ranks

Discontent in Labour ranks
The chair of the Labour Party Constituency Council in Donegal has hit out at the way decisions are being made by the party’s headquarters.

The chair of the Labour Party Constituency Council in Donegal has hit out at the way decisions are being made by the party’s headquarters.

Peter Cutliffe was speaking after the Donegal Democrat/Donegal People’s Press reported that the wife of Senator Jimmy Harte, Mary Harte, is in the running to be a candidate in the Letterkenny electoral area at next year’ county council elections.

Mr Cutliffe said the decision to consider Mrs Harte as a candidate had caused annoyance among members locally. Mr Cutliffe, who has also put his name forward to be a candidate, said the annoyance was not personal but at how decisions are being made.

“Members are concerned that decisions are being taken in Dublin without consulting local members. I think Dublin are playing lip service to local members but not really taking views and opinion into consideration. What is the point in members running to meetings on winter nights but when it comes to a major decision that is taken out of our hands by Dublin? It begs the question ‘is there a need for local branches and it is another slap for local democracy?’

A selection committee appointed by party headquarters will decide who will run for Labour in the Letterkenny electoral area following the emergence of Mary Harte, wife of Senator Jimmy Harte as a potential runner. The committee, which is chaired by party veteran Pat Magner, has interviewed three candidates - Mary Harte, Donegal constituency council chair Peter Cutliffe and former general election candidate Siobhán McLaughlin. A decision on who will run in Letterkenny has been delayed. Mrs Harte joined the party in recent weeks and is understood to have registered the membership through the party headquarters in Dublin. She then expressed an interest in running in next year’s council elections. The party has been seeking candidates in recent weeks and had set a deadline last month for sitting councillors to decide if they are running. Frank McBreary Jnr, who was held a seat for the party in the Stranorlar electoral area, did not indicate if he was to stand and then announced last week that he had resigned from the party. One party insider said the party is looking to get candidates ”out early” ahead of the elections next May. Jimmy Harte took a seat in the Letterkenny electoral area and in Letterkenny Town Council at the last local elections before being nominated to the Seanad.