Labour Youth

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Not to be confused with Labour Youth Forum or Young Labour.
Labour Youth
Óige an Lucht Oibre
Chairperson Grace Williams
Secretary General Colum Counihan
Founded 1979 (1979)
Headquarters Bloodstone Building, Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin 2,
Membership Increase 1,000 [1]
Ideology Democratic socialism
Social democracy
Mother party Republic of Ireland Labour Party
International affiliation International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY)
European affiliation Young European Socialists (YES)
Newspaper The Left Tribune

Labour Youth (Irish: Óige an Lucht Oibre) is the youth wing of the Labour Party of Ireland. Anyone under the age of 30[2] is eligible to join Labour Youth.

It replaced an earlier organisation, the Young Labour League. The 1990s saw Labour Youth change and reestablished after the merger of the Labour Party and Democratic Left. In the 2007 General Election, Labour Youth opposed a pre-election pact with the centre-right party Fine Gael. Labour Youth Delegates to the Labour Party Special Delegate Conference in March 2011 also opposed the entry into a coalition government with Fine Gael.


Labour Youth succeeded the Young Labour League as a full section of the Party in 1979, under Party Leader Frank Cluskey. The first annual conference took place on 13 May 1979. John Kelleher was elected as the first Chair, Jane Scott as Secretary and Robin Hanan and Ted Gannon as the first representatives on the Labour Party's Administrative Council. The first campaign undertaken by Labour Youth was on combating unemployment.

During the 1980s, Labour Youth proudly stood with the Dunnes Stores employees in their long strike against the apartheid regime in South Africa. They raised and donated £1900 to support the striking workers, and regularly joined them on the picket-lines. The 1980s also marked a high-point in terms of youth participation, whereby Labour Youth had over 1200 members and could call demonstrations of over 1000 people in Dublin alone.

From the early 1980s Militant Tendency wielded significant control over the group, with Clare Daly, (now a ULA TD) being elected a youth representative for the Labour Administrative Committee. In 1988 a broad left coalition led by Vincent Byrne, Pat Montague and others won control over the group. The following year the leaders of Militant were expelled from the party.[3]

Members were extremely active in the election of presidential candidate Mary Robinson, forming a base of membership during the campaign that would provide the backbone of leadership within the organisation for years to come. They provided leadership to the National Youth Council of Ireland and in 1992 were among the founding members of the European Council of Socialist Youth (Ecosy). The #Tom Johnson Summer School, which is still a major date on Labour Youth’s calendar, was first initiated in 1994. In 1999, along with the main party, Labour Youth merged with Democratic Left Youth.

The group recently undertook an extremely active and visible role in the 2011 Irish General Election in support of Labour Party candidates. They later called on the Party to abandon talks on forming a coalition government with Fine Gael, describing the proposal as inherently undemocratic.[4]

Labour Youth played a core role in the successful election campaign of Labour Party President and former Galway West TD Michael D. Higgins as the ninth President of Ireland in the 2011 Presidential Election. Throughout Higgins' long career in the Labour Party, he had been a vocal supporter of Labour Youth, and was a regular speaker at the annual Labour Youth Tom Johnson Summer School.

In October 2013, Labour Youth condemned the Fine Gael-Labour coalition's cuts to welfare payments for young people in the 2014 budget.[5]


Recent campaigns have included:


Youth Conference is held every year in November. At Youth Conference, motions are debated and voted upon, setting Labour Youth policy. The National Youth Executive is also elected at Youth Conference. Youth Conference is the supreme decision-making body of Labour Youth

National meetings are held several times a year to hold the National Youth Executive to account and to discuss campaigns, recruitment and ongoing issues.

Day-to-Day management of Labour Youth nationally, along with the implementation of Conference and National Meeting mandates is handled by the National Youth Executive. Individual National Officers also hold working groups relating to their portfolios to make policies and to plan campaigns and recruitment.

The basic operating unit of Labour Youth is the Branch. Branches are organized in most Universities and Institutes of Technology, where meetings are held, policies are debated and campaigns are organized and embarked upon. Branches retain their own leadership and administrative structures, the positions generally somewhat mirroring those of the National Youth Executive. Branches send delegates to Youth Conference to vote on Labour Youth Policy for the year and the composition of the National Youth Executive, and many Youth Branches are recognized as full Branches of the Labour Party in their own right, thereby having the ability to send delegates to vote at the Labour Party National Conference.

Labour Youth is also active on a central council, executive board, constituency executive and local level.

Labour Youth has close links with the Social Democratic and Labour Party and SDLP Youth in the North of Ireland. The former SDLP MLA for South Belfast Conall McDevitt was a former National Secretary of Labour Youth.

Tom Johnson Summer School[edit]

The Tom Johnson Summer School is held annually in July. It is named after Tom Johnson, the first leader of the Labour Party and the only leader to date to serve as the leader of the opposition in Dáil Éireann. At Tom Johnson, panel discussions are held on a number of topics, with speakers from within and outside of the Party. The Jim Kemmy "Thirst for Justice" Award is awarded at Tom Johnson.


The National Youth Executive (NYE) is responsible for the day-to-day running of Labour Youth. Officers are elected to the NYE at Youth Conference, held in November each year. The Labour Party Youth & Development Officer is an ex-officio, non-voting member of the NYE.

The current National Youth Executive[6] are:

Executive Position Officer Constituency
National Chairperson Grace Williams Dublin Rathdown
Women's Officer Ellen Murphy Dublin West
National Secretary Colum Counihan Cork East
Campaigns Officer Sarah Dunne Tipperary
Membership Development Officer Shane Folan Dublin Bay North
Policy and Education Officer Dylan O'Keeffe Cork South Central
Communications Officer Dave Reilly Dublin Rathdown
International Officer Declan Meenagh Dublin Central

The NYE are assisted in their work by a number of Co-ordinators who are elected at the first national meeting convened after National Youth Conference. The positions are non-executive and do not attend NYE meetings.

Coordinator Position Coordinator Constituency
Trade Union Coordinator Ciaran Garrett Dublin Central
Policy Coordinator Vacant
Communications Coordinator Sean Rooney Dublin South-Central
Equality Coordinator Michael O'Connor Dublin Mid-West
Munster Area Coordinator Robert O'Donnell Tipperary and Kildare North
Connacht-Ulster Coordinator Vacant
Leinster Area Coordinator Patrick Hobbes Wexford and Kildare North
Dublin Area Coordinator Liam van der Spek Dublin Rathdown
Cork-Kerry Area Coordinator Brian O'Reilly Cork East

The Youth & Development Officer, employed by the Labour Party of Ireland, is currently Caroline Winston. The Y&DO facilitates and advises the Executive in the course of their functions and decisions.

Former National Chairs Years
Jack Eustace 2014–2015
Ciarán Garrett 2013–2014
Aideen Carberry 2012–2013
Conor Ryan 2011–2012
Colm Lawless 2010–2011
Rory Geraghty 2009–2010
Gary Honer 2008–2009
Enda Duffy 2007–2008
Patrick Nulty 2006–2007
Graham Ó Maonaigh 2005–2006
Donal Lyons 2004–2005
Rebecca Moynihan 2002–2004
Áine Morris 2001–2002
Alan Kelly 1999–2001
Cian O'Callaghan 1999–2001
Mark Garrett 1997–1999
David Leech 1996–1997
Fearghal O’Boyle 1994–1996
Desmond Cullen 1993–1994
Edward Dawson 1991–1993
Paddy Glackin 1989–1991
Vincent Byrne 1988–1989
Michael Barry 1985–1988
Ray McLoughlin 1983–1985
Michael Martin 1980–1983
John Kelleher 1979–1980



Labour Youth publishes The Left Tribune on a regular basis.

External links[edit]

Official Links

Related Links