Thursday 23 November 2017

Labour will stick by Kenny as a symbolic farewell to Coalition

Labour leader Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke
Labour leader Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Labour's seven TDs will today vote for Enda Kenny in the election for Taoiseach as a final and symbolic farewell to their five years in Coalition with Fine Gael.

The party returns to Leinster House with 30 fewer deputies than their General Election triumph in February 2011, and determined to go into Opposition to try to rebuild their shattered political fortunes.

There was speculation over the past week about which way Labour would go in today's vote for Taoiseach, which is expected to see Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams also field. Some within the party felt the symbolism of not backing Mr Kenny would be a good start to opposition.

But yesterday a party spokesman said all seven remaining TDs had decided that it was better to discharge their residual government responsibilities.

"They decided that voting for Mr Kenny would 'bookend' their role in government. It would also accord with the terms under which they fought the General Election," the party spokesman said.

"But once this vote is done - Labour is going into opposition. There is no doubt about that," the spokesman added.

The decision confirms that Mr Kenny should have 57 votes in the contest for Taoiseach as the Dáil returns today after voting on February 26.

Fianna Fáil, which has fewer TDs on 44, felt it had more momentum than Fine Gael, who had failed in the hope of winning a renewed government term. It has spent the past few days trying to win over small groups and Independents to back Micheál Martin and get ahead of the outgoing Taoiseach.

Nobody can win today's contest. But after it, contacts between the two big parties are expected to start.

Irish Independent

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