Sunday 22 July 2018

A contrite Alan Kelly: 'Power is a drug' moment wasn't my finest

Alan Kelly. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Alan Kelly. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Group Political Editor

ACTING ENVIRONMENT Minister Alan Kelly has indicated there should be a vote for the leadership of the Labour Party if Joan Burton steps aside.

The party’s deputy leader refused to say whether he would run for the leadership at the next opportunity but said if his supporters feel he should he will.

“Joan will make her own decision [on stepping down] and when that decision is made I’ll answer that question.

“The members will make this decision. It won’t be Alan Kelly or Joan Burton and Brendan Howlin,” he said.

“I believe people will put themselves forward. If they feel I should do it I will. I’ve always said it would be an ambition to lead the Labour Party and that hasn’t changed.”

A somewhat-contrite Mr Kelly also told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke that he regrets ever saying in a Sunday Independent that ‘power is a drug’ and doesn’t actually believe that.

“Everyone makes mistakes. I make mistakes. I hold my hands up to certain things that I said.

“That article certainly wasn’t my finest moment because I didn’t articulate myself properly,” he said, adding: “I was talking about being in government

“That interview which is now infamous doesn’t represent me.”

On Irish Water, Mr Kelly said he believes it should remain in place and the employees “do incredible work” but many people in Leinster House “don’t know what they do”.

He said water charges are “probably the most difficult political issue in 30 years”.

Personally he said dealing with the issue was “very, very difficult”.

“It was very emotional dealing the issues of threats to your family, treats to your staff. I felt my personal safety was threatened for a long period of time. I still feel to a certain extent that it’s threatened,” he said.

The Tipperary TD said that for a long time gardaí had to be notified of his movements and “loads of times” he feared being physically confronted.

In relation to the prospect of a coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Mr Kelly said the offer made by acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny of a ‘partnership arrangement’ “is probably the only offer in town”.

He criticised Sinn Féin and others who he said were being populist. “They have no intention of being in government or in power. I can’t stand that,” he said.

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