Sunday 25 September 2016

Humiliation was made worse by declaration on 'Late Late Show'

Niall O'Connor and Barry Lennon

Published 21/05/2016 | 02:30

Fresh from his leadership disappointment, Alan Kelly posted an image of seven pints of Guinness on Twitter
Fresh from his leadership disappointment, Alan Kelly posted an image of seven pints of Guinness on Twitter

Former Environment Minister Alan Kelly has been left humiliated after his aspirations to become the next Labour Party leader were dashed by his parliamentary party colleagues.

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The Tipperary TD failed to secure a single nomination from his six Labour colleagues, resulting in Brendan Howlin succeeding Joan Burton without a contest.

Mr Kelly was labelled "childish" by colleagues after he then snubbed a press conference in Dublin during which Mr Howlin was declared the new leader.

Instead, he remained in his constituency and later released a statement expressing his clear dissatisfaction at how the process had been handled.

"The rest of the parliamentary party took a different view to what I believe is the members' wish and entitlement," he said.

The announcement was also overshadowed by accusations that Mr Howlin had told members of the parliamentary party that he would only put himself forward as a candidate if there was no contest.

The Wexford TD has denied the claim but Mr Kelly is adamant that Mr Howlin "blocked" his leadership ambitions by issuing the warning.

"Howlin was either too precious or too afraid of Kelly to allow a contest," a source close to Mr Kelly told the Irish Independent.

Mr Kelly is also no longer the Labour deputy leader. There are doubts now over whether that position will be filled, given that the party has just seven TDs.

The humiliation for Mr Kelly is compounded by the fact that he appeared on 'The Late Late Show' last week to declare his wish to succeed Ms Burton.

Within Labour circles, it is felt that Mr Kelly would have beaten Mr Howlin if the question had gone to a vote of the almost 4,000 members.

Mr Kelly is now believed to be considering his future in politics but sources say that he does not intend to quit the party in the short term.

Mr Howlin promised to rebuild Labour after its General Election drubbing in February.

At the end of the press conference, Mr Howlin read out a congratulatory text message from Mr Kelly. He said he was "disappointed" at the decision of Mr Kelly not to turn up.

Mr Howlin told reporters he would be reaching out to former TDs such as Róisín Shortall and Tommy Broughan to rejoin, adding: "Mine will be a shared leadership. We are 12 parliamentarians, but we are hungry and determined."

How leadership hopes sank in seven days

Friday, May 13 Alan Kelly tells Ryan Tubridy on the 'Late Late Show' that he intends to contest the Labour Party leadership. Mr Kelly becomes the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring to succeed outgoing leader Joan Burton.

Sunday, May 15 At a James Connolly commemoration event in Dublin, Joan Burton refuses to say who she favours to succeed her.

Tuesday, May 17 Former deputy Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin tells colleagues he is determined to become the next leader.

Thursday, May 19 Mr Kelly tells a press conference he believes a contest would be "healthy" for the party.

Later that night, he privately concedes the race after failing to secure the backing of any other TD.

Friday, May 20 Mr Howlin texts Mr Kelly but receives no response. War erupts in Labour as it emerges no contest will be held. Mr Howlin is declared the new leader but Mr Kelly snubs his press conference.

Irish Independent

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