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Friday 9 December 2016

Creighton bows out after Renua election wipeout

'Huge political risk taken by us didn't pay off'

Published 15/05/2016 | 02:30

ELECTION HAMMERING: Lucinda Creighton has stepped down as leader of Renua Ireland
ELECTION HAMMERING: Lucinda Creighton has stepped down as leader of Renua Ireland

Lucinda Creighton has stepped down as Renua Ireland leader after she failed to return a single candidate in the General Election.

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In her resignation speech, Ms Creighton accepted responsibility for policy decisions that did not capture the public imagination, but said she was proud of what the party had achieved.

Speaking at a Renua national members meeting in Portlaoise, she said setting up a party had been a "remarkable journey" which did not end the way she planned.

Ms Creighton paid tribute to her colleagues including husband Paul Bradford and former TDs Billy Timmins and Terence Flanagan who left Fine Gael to join Renua.

She said they took "huge political risks" as she believes it is more difficult to be re-elected as a new party member. She had special praise for Offaly county councillor John Leahy, whom she said possesses the "qualities of leadership that our country is crying out for".

Speaking to the Sunday Independent after the meeting, Mr Leahy said he was "disappointed" to see Ms Creighton resign and insisted the party did not blame her for the election wipeout.

Mr Leahy said he is interested in succeeding her but would like to see if other candidates will also put their name forward.

Ms Creighton instructed Renua's national executive committee to begin the process of electing a new leader.

In her final speech as a party leader, she attacked Taoiseach Enda Kenny for the inclusion of Independent Tipperary TD Michael Lowry in the new government.

She also claimed Independent News and Media (INM) ran an "unrelenting and unprecedented smear campaign" against her during the election.

The allegation is understood to relate to a complaint made against Ms Creighton to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo).

It was claimed Ms Creighton received reduced legal fees in the case taken against her by developer Michael O'Flynn, which she failed to declare.

During the election campaign, she said she was willing to produce evidence to prove the allegation was untrue.

However, despite several requests she never revealed how much she paid in legal fees.

Ms Creighton was invited by Sipo to provide evidence that proved she did not receive a benefit in kind on her legal fees but decided against it.

Sipo eventually ruled she did not have a case to answer as there was no evidence provided by the complainant to support the allegation she received cut-price legal fees, which should have been declared.

Yesterday, she also defended Renua President Eddie Hobbs's views on public-sector pay, which others in the party believed lost them votes.

"I believe many people in Ireland regretted that Eddie did not stand to run for the Dáil, I certainly did, but at least he was brave enough to say he wanted to make a difference and not commentate from the sidelines," she said.

She also praised newly appointed communications minister Denis Naughten and social protection minister Leo Varadkar.

Meanwhile, next Friday is the closing date for candidates to put their name forward for the Labour Party leadership contest.

Former environment minister and Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly announced he will put his name forward on the Late Late Show on Friday night.

Former public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin is expected to make an announcement on his intentions in the coming days, but has so far remained coy on the issue.

Former education minister Jan O'Sullivan has also not ruled herself out and Cork East TD Sean Sherlock is also understood to be interested.

Postal ballots for the contest will be issued to Labour Pary members on May 23 and have to be returned by June 17.

Recently resigned Labour leader Joan Burton said she would not publicly back any of the candidates and wished them all good luck.

Sunday Independent

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