Friday 30 September 2016

Labour at war: Kelly snubs party press conference as Howlin becomes leader

Brendan Howlin is the new party leader - without an election taking place

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 20/05/2016 | 11:45

Alan Kelly. Photo: Irish Independent
Alan Kelly. Photo: Irish Independent

FORMER Minister Alan Kelly is to consider his position within the Labour Party after his fellow TDs refused to support his nomination for the leadership, Independent.ie can reveal.

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Mr Kelly has failed to secure the required backing of just one TD and will therefore not be allowed to contest a leadership contest.

This means Brendan Howlin has succeeded Joan Burton as leader without any election taking place.

Mr Kelly was not present at Mr Howlin's unveiling this afternoon.

"I am very disappointed Alan Kelly did not show up today," Mr Howlin said. "I will be ringing him after this press conference."

In an interview with News at One, the new leader said he had “no trouble" with Mr Kelly and he would be an “intrinsic  part of the Labour Party”.

Labour TD's Brendan Howlin & Alan Kelly during the Labour Party's Annual James Connolly Commemoration at Arbour Hill Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Labour TD's Brendan Howlin & Alan Kelly during the Labour Party's Annual James Connolly Commemoration at Arbour Hill Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

“I have spoken to him [Mr Kelly] for many hours. We have different views. But a decision has been made under the Constitution of the Labour Party.

Mr Kelly has since released a statement.

"I wish Brendan Howlin well as leader of the Labour Party and congratulate him on what is a proud day for him, his family, friends and supporters," he said.

"Over the past week I sought to ensure that the leadership of the party would be chosen by the members, by way of a contest and a democratic election.

"I further thought that a shortened contest would allow for re-engagement with our members and ensure a contest based on vision and ideas for the future direction of the party, where the best candidate would emerge with a clear mandate,"

"The rest of the parliamentary party took a different view to what I believe is the members wish and entitlement. I want to thank the huge volume of members who have confirmed that view to me."

In the News at One interview, Mr Howlin denied he was reluctant volunteer for the post of the Labour Party.

“I laid out my stall to my parliamentary colleagues very clearly. We had a very bruising election campaign result. When I didn’t stand in the last leadership contest, I didn’t expect to be standing in the subsequent one.

"But looking at the needs of the party, all of us in the parliamentary party, searched our souls about what is right for the future. We spent many hours mapping out a policy platform that will – in the quickest possible time – restore the Labour Party.”

Several sources across all levels of the party today said the issue may result in members submitting their resignations.

Sources also said Mr Kelly will now consider his future within the Labour fold after failing to secure a 'seconder' to support his nomination.

And former deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Henry Upton, told independent.ie:

“This is an insult to democracy and an insult to the Labour Party.”

Mr Upton, who is a member of the Labour National Executive, added;

“The new leader of the Labour Party will be elected by the parliamentary party, not the 4,000 members.”

Mr Kelly had asked Jan O’Sullivan for her nomination but she told him she had already made her position clear.

“I said from the beginning The person to lead the Labour Party is the right person, the person I believe in. To me Brendan is the right person,” Ms O’Sullivan said. 

“Alan Kelly is a good friend and colleague and I am sure he will be part of the shared-leadership. I know he said he would like to be leader but I think Brendan Howlin was the correct person.”

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