Sunday 4 December 2016

Burton instructs TDs to back Kenny in vote, despite Labour unease

Published 07/03/2016 | 02:30

Labour leader Joan Burton. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Labour leader Joan Burton. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Labour Party leader Joan Burton will insist that her surviving seven TDs vote for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach on Thursday, despite growing unrest over the move.

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A number of Labour TDs and senators, along with some in the wider membership of the party, are understood to believe they should abstain as voters did not give the Fine Gael leader a mandate to return as Taoiseach.

A source said there was a sense that Labour would be better to "end the charade" as voters had not given them a mandate to re-elect Mr Kenny as Taoiseach.

However, Ms Burton has argued that she gave a commitment to support his reappointment throughout the General Election campaign. She believes that Labour's TDs should honour that pact - but that all ties to Fine Gael would be severed after this week's vote.

Her spokesman told the Irish Independent it was "true to say there is some unease" in the party ahead of the Dáil resumption.

However, he said they went to the electorate with an offer that was based strongly around their manifesto, but also on the fact they wanted to return the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition.

He said they view Thursday's vote in that context "and that vote alone".

"Once that vote is done, that would be it," he said, indicating that they might not support Mr Kenny for Taoiseach if there were subsequent votes in the coming weeks.

Although Mr Kenny will not have the numbers needed to be re-elected on Thursday, the support of Labour's TDs will be vital in order to keep him ahead of Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

If Mr Kenny were to be beaten by Mr Martin, it would almost certainly prompt other ministers to move against him.

Fine Gael now has 50 TDs compared with Fianna Fáil's 44, and both parties are trying to woo support from Independents and others.

By adding Labour's seven TDs to his own 50, Mr Kenny is likely to be able to stay comfortably in front in the initial vote.

Sinn Féin, which has 23 TDs in the new Dáil, is expected to nominate Gerry Adams.

Ms Burton's spokesman said the Labour Party was united in the view that they should not enter any negotiations on the formation of a new government.

Their ministers will continue to carry out their duties in a caretaker capacity after Thursday.

But once a new government is formed, they will switch to the opposition benches and reflect on how to rebuild the party.

"There haven't been any talks with Fine Gael about a new government," he said.

Irish Independent

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