A Message from Loraine Mulligan: Policy and Research Unit

The Local and European elections are due to take place in June 2024 and the next General Election is also around the corner. The Policy and Research Unit, of which I am Chairperson, is tasked with developing our party’s election platform.

The unit reflects the diversity of Labour’s membership, with some members elected at Conference, others appointed by party sections; others selected by the Party Leader and representatives from Labour Councillors and the Parliamentary party.  The unit is assisted by Cathal McCann, the party’s Political Director, and Darragh O’Donnell, Parliamentary support officer.  We are working hard to ensure Labour has a strong offering for the electorate when voting time comes – in terms of vision, principles and policy.  We want Labour members to be at the heart of shaping the future of our party and country.


With this in mind, we recently conducted a survey of the policy priorities of our members.  Housing, Health and Climate emerged as the top areas of concern. Members also came forward with policy proposals in a range of areas such as work, wages, transport, education and justice/crime.

The Policy and Research Unit has established a working group specifically on the forthcoming Local Election.  Councillors responded to a call and have given detailed input on the issues they are dealing with in their communities.  A webinar was also recently held on Zoom to get feedback from members and public representatives on the key practical and political priorities at local level.  The need for local government reform was emphasised, as well as solutions with regard to the problems of housing, transport, traffic, anti-social behaviour, adequate funding and more.

The Policy and Research Unit has also set up a working group on the European Parliament elections, chaired by David Kitching, the party’s International Secretary.  There has been fruitful interaction with the Party of European Socialists (PES) at EU level with regard to framing the discussion.  Labour will be emphasising our place within the second largest group in the European Parliament and our desire for more initiatives to strengthen and deepen Social Europe.

For some time, Labour has been concerned about the growing influence of the Far-Right on Irish society and on political discourse, well before the awful riots that happened in Dublin last month.  A working-group on Immigration and Integration, chaired by local election candidate and former TD Robert Dowds, is currently examining this important topic.  An email has been sent separately to members asking for their views on changes that are needed.  Policy proposed by the working group will feed into both the Local and European election manifestos.

Draft Local and European election manifestos will be presented at the next Central Council meeting on the 13th December 2023.  This will allow for additional consultation with members, followed by a period of further refinement.

With an eye to the General Election, the Policy and Research Unit is also formulating proposals in relation to disability and employment.  Furthermore, the unit is in the process of forming a Health policy working group.  If members have relevant expertise with regard to the Irish healthcare system, whether within a hospital or in the community, please let me know so that you can contribute to our work.  Many thanks.

Yours fraternally

Loraine Mulligan

Chair of the Policy and Research Unit

[email protected]

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