The message was delivered at a fringe meeting on the restatement of Labour values held on Saturday 28th February, on the fringe of the Labour Party Conference in Killarney, Co. Kerry.
In his address O’Connor stated that the Labour Party has “allowed a narrative which portrays us as having collaborated with austerity instead of mitigating it.”
He added: “Are we really content to go on allowing ourselves to be seen as the enforcers of an austerity project which represents a repudiation of the very essence of the social democratic project since its inception?”
On the issue of water charges, O’Connor called for dialogue with those leading the Right2Water campaign and called on the Labour Party to stop “helplessly” standing by “while citizens are cast in jail for over exuberantly protesting their rights.”
For the next election he called on the Labour Party to stand on “an independent, democratic, socialist” election platform and prioritise the abolition of the Universal Social Charge and its replacement by a new Progressive Social Solidarity Contribution.”
He added that the Party should keep it’s options open “to work with progressive people and parties who are left of centre in order to achieve the ultimate ambition envisaged by the founders of the Labour Party for a government of, and for, the mass of working people and dispossessed of our country.”
To read Jack O’Connor’s full speech click here