Renua split on Lucinda's future as party leader
Published 03/04/2016 | 02:30
Deep divisions are emerging in Renua over the future of Lucinda Creighton's leadership following the party's disastrous General Election campaign.
There is pressure growing on Ms Creighton to step down and make way for Offaly county councillor John Leahy, who is seen as the de facto leader since the election.
The party's constitution dictates the Renua leader must be an elected politician, which rules Ms Creighton out of a leadership race following her failure to be elected.
At present, there are five Renua councillors eligible to challenge for the leadership under the party's rules.
However, some Renua figures are anxious to change the party's constitution to allow the former Fine Gael minister remain on as leader.
In another blow for Renua, one of its most high-profile election casualties, Billy Timmins, is refusing to commit to the party.
"I have made no decision on what I may or may not do into the future," Mr Timmins told the Sunday Independent.
Mr Leahy is currently overseeing a review of the party's election campaign, while Ms Creighton takes a break from public life with her family.
The councillor has been meeting the party's regional groups ahead of a Renua conference due to take place in May.
Mr Leahy said Ms Creighton will remain as leader until the review process completes and her leadership will be decided at the national meeting.
"If it comes down to it, I'm interested in the leadership. There's no point in saying I'm not and if someone else wants to contest it then it's up to the membership," he said.
"Clearly, with the way the constitution is, then Lucinda can't contest it, which is a pity but that's the way it is and we just have to move on," he added.
Should Mr Leahy launch a leadership bid he will have the support of Kilkenny county councillor Patrick McKee.
"John has a lot of support in the party and he is a very dynamic individual and I have no doubt that he would be a very competent leader of Renua Ireland. He would have my full support," he said.
However, despite the rising level of support for Mr Leahy, other members are pushing to change Renua's rules to allow Ms Creighton to stay on as leader.
South Dublin councillor Ronan McMahon, Fingal counillor Kieth Redmond and Mayo councillor Frank Durcan want Ms Creighton to lead the party.
Mr Durcan said Ms Creighton's situation is a "loss to the country" and insisted he would be urging the party to change its constitution.
The Renua leader told the Sunday Independent she would canvass her members for their opinions ahead the conference.
"I'll talk to Renua members, candidates and public reps regarding my thoughts on leadership," she said.
Speaking for the first-time since the election, former Wicklow TD Billy Timmins said the campaign had been "bruising" for the party.
"The party is currently going through a process not unlike Fine Gael and Labour to analyse the failings," he said. "There is an inclination to have a review and I believe if a review, be it internal or external, does take place it is important that it can provide a constructive map into the future," he added.