Blow for Burton as Labour strategist resigns
Tánaiste Joan Burton's general election planning has been dealt a severe blow with the loss of a senior Labour Party strategist.
In a move that sent shockwaves through party circles, Labour Party general secretary David Leach is resigning to take up a senior position with a Third World aid charity.
Senior party figures said Mr Leach left a "big hole to fill".
"It's a huge, huge loss on a professional and personal level. No two ways about it," a senior party source said.
Mr Leach was appointed to the party position by Ms Burton just six months ago and was expected to play a key role in Ms Burton's election preparations.
He replaced long-serving general secretary Ita McAuliffe who retired last year.
Instead, he will become Goal director of communications when he leaves Labour headquarters in a month's time.
Mr Leach is viewed as an experienced political operator and worked on the party's backroom staff for the past seven years, primarily under former leader Eamon Gilmore.
A native of Cork, he is a member of the party for 25 years and served as as national organiser and political director.
A key member of the Labour 2011 general election campaign team, Mr Leach then coordinated the party's operation in Leinster House.
Ms Burton thanked Mr Leach for his "longstanding and valued contribution to the party".
A party source said: "She needed him more than he needed to stick with the job. He had an opportunity to move on with this new role and took it.
"He was the last of the team left from Eamon's time as the rest have already moved on. He would be a very blunt and honest speaker in terms of what needs to be done by the party."