Siptu officials have defended the trade union’s decision to allow members supporting former union president Jack O’Connor’s bid to become a Labour TD to use its headquarters for planning purposes, despite opposition from union members who support other parties.
Union officials said they have no issue with members holding a meeting at Liberty Hall in Dublin today to discuss plans to canvass, leaflet, fundraise and take part in social media campaigns in support of Mr O’Connor.
In an email sent to Siptu members two weeks ago, union member Brendan Carr said he wants to support Mr O’Connor in his bid to win a Dáil seat for Labour in the Wicklow constituency.
In a message titled ‘Friends of Jack O’Connor’, Mr Carr wrote that Mr O’Connor has been a long-time president of Siptu and that, as such, he wanted to organise support for his candidacy among union members.
“As you may be aware, Jack O’Connor has decided to contest a seat in the Wicklow constituency in the next general election,” the email read. “Irrespective of political affiliations, a number of colleagues have expressed a desire to assist him during his campaign.
“Assistance can take many forms, for example, canvassing, leafleting, fundraising, activity on social media, administrative work, etc, are all vital to a successful campaign.
“In this regard, a number of us have arranged to meet with Jack on Monday, February 12, in Liberty Hall, to establish how we, the staff of Siptu, can assist our colleague.
“We, therefore, would like to invite you to attend this meeting and discuss with Jack how we can best-assist him in his campaign.”
While the message to union members made it clear that the support is being sought simply because Mr O’Connor is a former Siptu president, and is “irrespective of political affiliations”, union members who are involved in other parties contacted the Irish Examiner to say they are unhappy with the plan.
However, a number of Siptu officials said there is no issue with the meeting taking place at Liberty Hall today, as the location is used by a number of different groups, for various reasons, and there is no suggestion Siptu is formally supporting Mr O’Connor’s Dáil bid.
Mr O’Connor confirmed plans to run for Labour, in the Wicklow constituency, in the next general election, late last year, and said that he was asked to run and would contest the race on issues such as health, housing, and education.