DISAFFECTED former members of the Labour Party are considering running a candidate in Laois in the forthcoming general election.
The proposal for a Laois candidate was aired at a meeting in the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel last week at which Birr based, Liam Dumpleton was selected to run as the candidate of an "alternative left" grouping in the constituency.
In a signal of the split in the Labour camp, 20 members resigned from the party at that meeting, and formed a new left grouping, under the umbrella organisation of the United Left Alliance, helmed by Joe Higgins MEP. A proposal for a second candidate from Laois was heard from the floor.
However, Ray Fitzpatrick who chaired the meeting said: "Since there is no one prepared to allow their name go forward at present, it might be better to defer these suggestions for consideration to the elected committee who could then report back to the group at the next meeting."
Mr Dumpleton, a news journalist with Midlands 103, was proposed by Jack Feehan of Birr, and seconded by Jim Lalor-Fitzpatrick, Mountrath. Addressing the meeting, Mr Dumpleton spoke of his "passion to provide a real left wing alternative for people; to oppose cuts which would impact on working people and the unemployed; and to highlight the consensus that has emerged between the main political parties."
Speaking in Dublin last Friday, Ray Fitzpatrick outlined the background to the initiative. "We established a new left wing group to give the people of Laois-Offaly a real choice. Two thirds of the people who attended the Labour Party selection convention in Portlaoise last December have set up this new group. Liam Dumpleton is our candidate and he is very able."
Joe Higgins MEP (Socialist Party) welcomed the move. "I welcome the mass resignation of the Labour Party in Laois-Offaly. They dictatorially imposed a candidate. The Labour leadership wants yes men and women. The ruinous policies of the present government will be continued by a Fine Gael - Labour administration.
"There is a huge thirst for an alternative. The United Left Alliance is an alliance at the moment, not a political party. It is comprised of independent left organisations, such as that in Laois-Offaly. We are the only credible left alternative in the country and the only place to put up a fight."
The officers elected to the new organisation in Laois-Offaly are: Chairperson, Eoin Breathnach; Secretary, Georgina Cully, Vice-Chair, Ray FitzPatrick: Treasurer Jim Bartlett; and PRO Liam Dumpelton.
Reacting to the emergence of Mr Dumpleton as a candidate, Labour Party candidate John Whelan said, "It is vital that the voters of Laois-Offaly are afforded a robust and credible choice of candidates in the general election and, as a new candidate myself, I welcome this.
"Until I was selected by Labour, the options for the people of this constituency were the exact same politicians who have been on the ballot paper here for years on end.
"There is a great deal of enthusiasm among the electorate for change and someone different. I am personally heartened by the great level of broad community support which I am receiving. as there is a mood out there for policies that will work and that will get people back to work. Every candidate and party will have to earn the support of the voters and ultimately it is the electorate who will decide who they trust to form the next Government, as that's the core issue," added Mr Whelan.