Senior Labour figures to boycott party celebration

Two senior South Tipperary Labour party figures have declared they will not be attending their party’s planned celebration in Clonmel next month to mark the centenary of the party’s foundation in the town.

Two senior South Tipperary Labour party figures have declared they will not be attending their party’s planned celebration in Clonmel next month to mark the centenary of the party’s foundation in the town.

Cllrs Darren Ryan and Bobby Fitzgerald have announced they will boycott the special Labour Party meeting scheduled to take place at The Minella Hotel in Clonmel on the afternoon of December 2 because the anniversary had already been celebrated in May at events organised by the local party organisation.

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore was scheduled to unveil a commemorative plaque at Clonmel Town Hall on the anniversary day, May 27, and a special meeting of the Labour Parliamentary Party had been planned at Clonmel Park Hotel the same weekend as part of a series of celebrations in the town to mark the centenary, organised by local Labour members.

But just weeks before the celebrations, the Labour leadership pulled out because of their close proximity to the referendum on the fiscal treaty. The decision caused consternation and upset within the local party organisation at the time.

Cllrs Ryan and Fitzgerald’s announcement that they won’t attend the Labour event in Clonmel on December 2 comes in the wake of South Tipperary Senator Denis Landy walking out of a meeting of the Labour Party Parliamentary Party last week after Eamon Gilmore announced the plans.

Landy is understood to have been upset at being left out of the loop by the party leadership over the meeting being organised in his constituency.

Cllr Darren Ryan, who was Mayor of Clonmel in May, said he wouldn’t be attending the centenary meeting on a point of principal.

He first heard about the party hierarchy’s plans last Friday. He knew little about the plans and wasn’t consulted in any way about them.

“I won’t be rolling out the red carpet,” he declared.

“The Labour Party leadership were invited to attended the unveiling of a plaque at Clonmel Town Hall to commemorate the founding of party on May 27.

“In my opinion, I celebrated the centenary in a right and fitting manner and the leadership of the party chose not to attend it. That was my celebration so I will not be attending this and nor will any of my supporters be attending.

“I think it’s disappointing. It looks like a last minute rush before the end of the year to get the celebration done,” he continued.

Cllr Ryan added that when the Labour leadership pulled out of the Clonmel celebrations in May he was given a “clear and solid promise” that Eamon Gilmore would visit before the end of his term as mayor but that never happened.

Meanwhile, Cllr Fitzgerald from Carrick-on-Suir said he wouldn’t be attending the celebration because the anniversary was already celebrated by the local Labour party organisation on the actual date when the party was founded in the town 100 years ago.

“It’s too little, too late,” he told The Nationalist.

Cllr Fitzgerald said he wasn’t happy with the way Senator Landy was treated at the Labour Parliamentary Party meeting last week He also took issue with the fact that Eamon Gilmore was planning to visit Clonmel now but wasn’t prepared to do so during the the centenary celebrations organised when there was a Labour mayor of Clonmel earlier this year.

A Labour spokesman, meanwhile, said the details of the party’s centenary meeting in Clonmel will be announced later this week. While he was unable to confirm at this stage whether party leader Eamon Gilmore will be attending, he said it was hoped to have at least some senior Labour figures there.

“We wanted to make sure there was a significant event taking place in the town in 2012. It’s an event that is focusing mainly on the party membership and will give them an opportunity to look back on the history of the party and look at our place as a progressive party in the years and decades ahead.”