Monday 5 December 2016

Burton confident there is no threat to her leadership

Published 04/01/2016 | 02:30

Alan Kelly admits he has ambitions to lead the party. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Alan Kelly admits he has ambitions to lead the party. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Ged Nash has talked of his leadership hopes. Photo: Tom Burke

Tanaiste Joan Burton has moved to play down the significance of senior figures within the Labour Party positioning themselves for the leadership.

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With the party facing the potential loss of more than half its seats, Ms Burton has denied there is a rift with her deputy leader Alan Kelly.

Sources within the party have told the Irish Independent that if the current poll ratings play out on election day, Ms Burton's position as leader will be seen as untenable.

Already Mr Kelly has declared an interest in being a future leader, along with junior minister Ged Nash. Others, such as Jan O'Sullivan and Alex White, have refused to rule it out.

However, Ms Burton has said she does not feel undermined by her senior colleagues openly linking themselves to her position.

"I suppose 'let 100 flowers bloom' would be my attitude. We want people of ambition in the Labour Party," she said.

"I plan to remain as Labour Party leader, obviously subject to what happens in the election. I'd be very confident from talking to people around the country, and particularly talking to Labour Party members," she said.

The Dublin West TD, who faces a tough battle to retain her own seat, said that since taking over as leader from Eamon Gilmore in the wake of the local and European elections, she has criss-crossed the country and got "a very positive reception".

"I certainly look forward to continuing to lead the Labour Party," she said.

Asked about tensions with Mr Kelly, she said they have a "very strong, very positive relationship".

"I think we both bring different backgrounds, different experiences to the job, but I think the outcome is a very balanced team.

"Alan coming from a rural background, myself from the city centre, although obviously originally with rural roots.

"I think that has resulted in a very balanced take on Ireland as a society," she said.

"In terms of the job, the primary job of the Labour Party is to make people's lives better by getting people employment and by getting people better, decent wages and conditions, and then investment into essential services from education to housing to decent pensions in retirement."

She said Mr Kelly's primary job is to win his seat in Tipperary and deliver on housing.

Irish Independent

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