Renua leadership 'should be opened to non-members'
Published 16/05/2016 | 02:30
Renua Ireland should open up its leadership contest to politicians not currently in the party, the frontrunner for the position has said.
Cllr John Leahy, who has been widely tipped to take over from Lucinda Creighton, told the Irish Independent he wants the party to survive but that a major overhaul is needed.
And he said he did not yet know whether he would seek the leadership, adding that he would prefer a more high-profile person in the role.
Lucinda Creighton announced at the weekend that she is to step back from politics and resign from Renua after the party failed to elect any TDs to the 32nd Dáil.
The party's national board will meet next week to discuss its future, but Mr Leahy said he was not yet sure what that will entail.
The Offaly county councillor, who launched the party alongside Ms Creighton and Eddie Hobbs, said he would like to see the leadership race opened up to "members of the Oireachtas or anybody out there".
"I'm a councillor, I'm not high-profile. I need to spend more time in the constituency, not less," he said, but added: "I will step up to the mark if need be."
Mr Leahy said he realised that the chances of an outside candidate emerging were "very slim" but there was "no mad panic" to replace Ms Creighton.
"We have to explore every avenue," he said.
"We definitely have to go a different direction because a lot of people saw us as Fine Gael-lite. We had too many negative labels attached to us."
Ms Creighton, who is an ex-Fine Gael minister, announced that she is leaving politics after a "remarkable journey".
She paid tribute to her party's members and especially praised Mr Leahy, who, she said, showed "qualities of leadership that our country is crying out for. It's time for me to move on from leading Renua Ireland and allow new voices to be heard.
"I leave my role as party leader perhaps more humbled, but no less proud of all that we have achieved together and what can be accomplished in the future."
Ms Creighton said the party "could and should have done better, so a larger story of Renua could have been told".