Labour lets O'Gorman slip

One In Four Director Colm O'Gorman chooses the Progressive Democrats after becoming 'frustrated' with the Labour Party. By John Byrne

Colm O'Gorman, the Director of One In Four, was in "positive" negotiations with the Labour Party about running as a candidate in the forthcoming general election. However, he became frustrated with the pace of negotiations with the Labour Party, and announced on 26 April that he would be running as a candidate for the Progressive Democrats (PDs) in the Wexford constituency, after being approached by the PD chief whip Liz O'Donnell.

Colm O'Gorman met Mike Allen, the chairperson of the Labour Party, shortly before Christmas to discuss running as a Labour candidate. Colm O'Gorman was enthusiastic about the idea, and a senior Labour source said that Mike Allen felt very hopeful that he would run for Labour after the meeting. However, no formal commitment was made by either side.

Colm O'Gorman was anxious to discuss how he would fit in at the Labour Party, what electoral strategies would be pursued, and wanted to discuss key issues such as child welfare and protection.

He was keen to meet with Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte after his meeting with Mike Allen to discuss his candidature. However, it is understood that he did not succeed in meeting Pat Rabbitte until around the beginning of April. Colm O'Gorman was frustrated by this, a source close to him said. The source said he felt that "the ball was in their [the Labour Party's] court".

During this period, Colm O'Gorman was approached by Liz O'Donnell, the Progressive Democrat's chief whip, about standing in the general election for the PDs. He had at least two meetings with Liz O'Donnell, and also met twice with PD leader Mary Harney.

He made his decision to run for the PDs within "the last few weeks", he said.

The Labour Party were "surprised" by Colm O'Gorman's decision. Figures within the party heard rumours about the PD announcement shortly before it was made.

Colm O'Gorman said he had been approached by a number of political organisations about running as a candidate in the general election. He did not deny being frustrated by the Labour Party, but that he chose the PDs because of their "deep-seated commitment to the change and reform that is necessary to move Ireland forward in a radical and progressive way". He said that he believed that "the Progressive Democrats' approach to guaranteeing economic success is not merely for its own sake, but to make sure that Ireland has the resources to deliver the kinds of services and infrastructure that Irish people deserve."

Colm O'Gorman will not stand down as director of One In Four at present, but if he is successful as a PD candidate, "that would change", he said. He emphasised that One In Four was a non-political organisation.