Monday 26 September 2016

Joan Burton: Leadership question is top of Labour's agenda

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 07/05/2016 | 13:37

Labour Party leader Joan Burton Photo: Tom Burke
Labour Party leader Joan Burton Photo: Tom Burke

Joan Burton has said she plans to meet with her Labour colleagues next week to discuss "the best leadership option" for the party.

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There has been speculation that Ms Burton will step down as leader shortly, but she refused to publicly discuss her plans.

“I’m meeting the parliamentary Labour party on Tuesday and I’ll be talking to my colleagues then,” she told RTE Radio One’s Marian Finucane show.

“I’ve said to them already, I’m very happy to do whatever I can to help the Labour party in its future.”

She added: “I’ll be active in the Labour party no matter what.”

Describing the support she had received from her husband Pat Carroll and their daughter Aoife, she said: “They are saying to me: ‘we want you to do what you want to do.’

Labour Party leader and outgoing Tanaiste Joan Burton,TD at Leinster House for theelection of Enda Kenny as Taoiseach Pic: Tom Burke
Labour Party leader and outgoing Tanaiste Joan Burton,TD at Leinster House for theelection of Enda Kenny as Taoiseach Pic: Tom Burke

“I’ve lots of other interests, I might do some writing down the road, and in particular I want to contribute to this new Dáil."

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Labour leader Joan Burton. Photo: Arthur Carron
Labour leader Joan Burton. Photo: Arthur Carron

The party leader also said she is "absolutely confident" the Labour party will recover from its disastrous General Election performance.

“We were very disappointed with the seat count, but we have a base from which to rebuild the party,” she said, accepting that she felt “personally responsible” for the disappointing result.

“I lost a lot of very good colleagues, very good people in politics, people who had served as ministers, as TDs and were good friends as well.

“Politics and Leinster House as it is nowadays is a bit of a dry, sterile place, and I hate what happened to those people.”

However, she was optimistic for her party’s future.

“The sun rises again, and I’m absolutely confident the Labour party will have a recovery,” she said.

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Discussing the new government and the events of yesterday's Dáil meeting, she said: “I think it’s a situation where the government is extremely dependent on what Fianna Fáil does or doesn’t do.

“Basically they have their foot on the government’s throat.”

The Dublin West TD said the new government may last a long time “depending on how both parties behave”.

She also expressed her disappointment about the continued gender disparity in the new cabinet.

“We’re a bit slow learners, but on the other hand, the Dáil has an increase of women this year.

“If you look at the cabinet picture in the papers, you still have to do a little head count to see the women who are there now.

“The Taoiseach did promise a 50-50 cabinet (split), and to be honest we’re not near that yet,” she said.

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