Bruised Alan Kelly seeks Brendan showdown over leadership bid
Humiliated Kelly demands showdown
Published 23/05/2016 | 02:30
The row over the Labour Party leadership has escalated after Alan Kelly demanded a showdown with Brendan Howlin over his humiliation following his failure to secure a single nomination.
Mr Kelly wants Mr Howlin to row back on his public denials that he threatened to stand aside in the event of a leadership contest being called.
The Tipperary TD is adamant that the warning, which he claims was issued by Mr Howlin during a private meeting of the parliamentary party last week, was the catalyst for other Labour deputies refusing to second his nomination.
Mr Howlin has firmly denied that he ever made the threat and said on Friday that if Mr Kelly had secured a nomination then an election would have taken place.
"If there were two candidates today, there would be an election. Do you think anybody bullied Willie Penrose or Seán Sherlock or Jan O'Sullivan?" asked Mr Howlin.
However, party members in Limerick have said their local TD, Jan O'Sullivan, told a meeting of the party last week that she couldn't support Mr Kelly's nomination because Mr Howlin would not contest the leadership.
Last night, Mr Kelly told the Irish Independent that he intends to address "concerns and misgivings" he has about the events of recent days.
But he insisted that he will play a "central part" in the "revival of my party".
"Obviously, I have concerns and misgivings about what happened regarding the appointment of the new leader in our party and I will deal with those internally in the coming weeks and months," Mr Kelly said.
"But let me be clear about one thing; I fully intend to play a central part in the revival of my party and I'll be discussing that directly with Brendan and others during the week. I want to steer our party in a new direction. We need to be placed firmly as the party that represents workers and all their interests. That's what we are all about. Everything else is secondary to that."
A well-placed source, however, said Mr Kelly would demand a "climbdown" from Mr Howlin in a move that will cause further tensions in the party.
Given that former leader Joan Burton and party chairman Willie Penrose opted to detach themselves from the process, Mr Kelly needed the support of one of Ms O'Sullivan, Cork East TD Seán Sherlock or Dublin Fingal deputy Brendan Ryan.
None of the three were willing to back the former Environment Minister, despite his pleas.
The row in Labour comes as the party removed a claim from an internal report that some of its officials behaved like they were in 'The West Wing' during the recent General Election campaign.
The inquiry, which is examining Labour's disastrous election result, is highly critical of the manner in which the party's campaign was conducted.
It is set to find that Labour was too closely aligned to Fine Gael during the campaign. But it has emerged that a claim that some officials behaved like they were characters from the US television series 'The West Wing' is to be removed from the final draft. It is understood that the use of the term infuriated senior figures in the party.