Friday 28 October 2016

Kelly favourite for leadership as Burton resigns

Geraldine Gittens & Louise Kelly

Published 11/05/2016 | 08:54

Deputy Brendan Howlin.
Deputy Brendan Howlin.

Labour’s Brendan Howlin has all but signalled he wants to be the next leader of the party.

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The race is underway to replace former Tanaiste Joan Burton as Labour Party leader with ambitious deputy leader Alan Kelly seen as the favourite to take the job.

However this morning, Mr Howlin put himself right into contention for the top post.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, he said he would take this weekend to decide if running for leadership would be “right” for the party and himself.

“I’m giving very serious reflection on that,” he said.

“I’ve said many times that I want to be leader of the Labour Party. I want to contemplate if it’s the right thing for me and the party over the next few days.”

“I will decide over the weekend, and make my decision known to colleagues next week.”

He said he was interested in a collective leadership with “regular meetings” with councillors and party activists across the country.

“I want to be in leadership,” he said, but refused to say if he will run as leader.

And after the interview, Mr Howlin received the immediate support party colleague and former Communications Minister Alex White who lost his seat in Febraury’s General Election.

“Agree one candidate. Howlin has experience & judgement we need. Others can lead in future - not time for divisive contest,” Mr White tweeted from his Twitter account.

Read More: Kelly makes grab for Labour power

Mr Kelly is to appear on the Late Late Show this Friday and bookies have offered odds of 1/5 that he’ll take the leadership, all before the party even decides whether it is to have a contest or try to decide on a consensus candidate.

The Labour Party’s executive board is to meet to decide on how that process will work and Mr Kelly may yet face opposition too from fellow TD Sean Sherlock.

Ms Burton told her party’s reduced numbers of TDs and Senators in a private meeting that she was stepping down before addressing the media.

The Dublin West TD told how like most of the party, she had entered government in 2011 “with both hope and fear in my heart”.

She said she had hoped that they could turn the country’s economic fortunes around, but feared that the situation was at “a point of no return”.

Ms Burton said that in the years that followed, her party helped people get back to work, safeguarded social protection, built schools and secured

funding for social housing.

She said the election was “very disappointing” because of the loss of so many “outstanding public representatives”.

Read more: The next Labour leader: who's in line to take over?

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