The Labour Party leader has accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of attempting to turn the next General election into a “beauty contest.”
Brendan Howling was speaking at a meeting of his party’s Central Council today.
He said Labour would aim to build 80,000 social and affordable homes with five years if it has a say in Government.
He said Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin are taking the electorate for granted.
“From all that has been said by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, through their think-ins and so on, it is a slam dunk,” he said.
“The two of them together got barely half the votes in the last General Election but they want to turn the next one into a beauty contest between Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar.
“I think the people will reject that; I think people want to know what is going to be done, not who is going to lead a Government.”
He said the Labour Party would work to put in place the supports to allow more women to enter the workplace.
“Childcare and enabling people who want to work, to get out to work is critically important,” he said.
“That is the debate we want to have. What the next phase of Ireland will look like – not whether one or other of the two parties that have dominated politics will be in Government.”
Labour has selected 23 candidates selected for the next poll and Deputy Howlin said it is in the process of selecting more.
He said the party’s ambition is to double its seats at the next Government.
“In terms of the future partners in any potential Government [...] I am interested in changing Ireland to the good,” he said.
“That is why we are going to set very clear policy positions for the party. We have set them out in housing, in quality of work, in terms of the health service, in terms of the rights of children.
“We will expect anybody who wants to talk to us to deal with those policy positions rather than anything else.”
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has indicated his preference for holding the next election in May of next year.