Wednesday 28 June 2017

A combative voice that Labour could still harness

Mr Kelly’s voice as leader could have been valuable for Labour as it looks to make itself heard in a crowded political field. Photo: Tom Burke
Mr Kelly’s voice as leader could have been valuable for Labour as it looks to make itself heard in a crowded political field. Photo: Tom Burke

Barry Lennon

Alan Kelly's meteoric political career began in Seanad Éireann less than 10 years ago.

He was appointed as Labour's spokesman for Finance and Local Government before leaving the Upper House to go to Europe.

But Mr Kelly, whose brother Declan is a well-known businessman, cut his term short after being elected to the Dáil in 2011.

The 40-year-old married father was appointed Junior Transport Minister during the Fine Gael-Labour administration.

Known by the nickname 'AK-47', he was later elected as Labour Party deputy leader before being elevated to Cabinet by Joan Burton.

In the Department of the Environment, Mr Kelly gained plaudits for his no-nonsense approach to issues such as Irish Water.

In his final days as minister, he accused Fianna Fáil of "environmental treason" for suspending water charges.

He also delivered a rent package that introduced more certainty for tenants.

But Mr Kelly will always be synonymous with controversy. He infamously told the 'Sunday Independent' that "power is a drug".

Former Labour Leader Joan Burton said: "The person that wants to hide Alan Kelly would find it a difficult job."

But Mr Kelly's voice as leader could have been valuable for Labour as it looks to make itself heard in a crowded political field.

Irish Independent

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