Kelly: I'll be an outspoken defender of Labour values
THE Labour Party wants the pick of Ireland's next European Commissioner, its new deputy leader Alan Kelly has said.
Mr Kelly said everything is up for grabs in terms of the looming reshuffle of senior Cabinet and ministerial posts, but also the position of Commissioner.
Outgoing Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has increasingly been linked with the post in recent weeks, but Fine Gael Minister Phil Hogan is the long-believed frontrunner for the post.
Speaking after he was elected on the first count, Mr Kelly said he expected to be in the Cabinet and would be an outspoken defender of Labour values, particularly in the up- coming Budget.
Mr Kelly also confirmed the parties look set to swap a number of Cabinet portfolios, which had previously been ruled out by Fine Gael. "I think every brief is up for discussion, I think there will be change in portfolio across parties," he said.
But he said clearly that he expected them to discuss "issues like the Commissionership" and said he looked forward the deliberations.
About his own future, a robust Mr Kelly said he fully expected to be in Cabinet when the reshuffle was announced next week.
"Well usually the deputy leader in circumstances like this would be appointed to Cabinet so yes I would expect that that would be the norm, but at the end of the day it is a matter for the new Tanaiste and I am delighted to say the new Tanaiste is Joan Burton.
"That will be a decision she will have to make and I respect that," he said.
The junior Transport Minister said it would be his priority to ensure that hard-pressed families see a quick return in their pockets but also promised a total overhaul of the Labour Party structures.
"We have to focus in on families, on working people and do something for them," he said.
He also said that the party must ensure that the October Budget did not cross the bounds of the party's values, saying he would be outspoken and direct when he needed to be to ensure those values were defended.
Mr Kelly, who won 1,409, or 51.5pc, first preference votes, surpassed the quota of 1,368, defeating the other three candidates Sean Sherlock, Michael McCarthy and Ciara Conway.
It had been thought that Mr Kelly and Mr McCarthy would be locked in a tight battle.
However, it was clear from the earliest tallies that Mr Kelly was considerably ahead of the other three.
Mr Kelly paid a warm tribute to Mr Gilmore, saying history would be kind to the former leader and would recognise his contribution to Ireland's recovery.