Monday 20 February 2017

A combative voice that Labour could still harness

Barry Lennon

Published 21/05/2016 | 02:30

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

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

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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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