ALAN Kelly will continue as Labour leader for another three weeks and possibly until the end of April if his likely successor Ivana Bacik is forced to contest an election.
The Labour Party's Executive Board met on Saturday to adopt rules for the election of a new leader that will see nominations close at midday on March 24. If there is a contented election a postal ballot will be held with the poll closing on April 24.
However, Ms Bacik is almost certain to succeed Mr Kelly as the 14th leader of the Labour Party without a contest after TDs Duncan Smith and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin ruled themselves out this week.
It would be the second time in the last six years that a TD has become leader of Labour without an election. A joint meeting of the Labour Party Executive Board and Parliamentary Party on Saturday morning affirmed that Mr Kelly would continue in office as acting leader until a successor is elected.
Mr Kelly dramatically resigned on Wednesday night after he was told he no longer had the confidence of his parliamentary colleagues over concerns about the party’s performance and direction under his leadership and disquiet over the recruitment process for a backroom position in the party.
Only TDs can contest for the Labour leadership. A candidate may be nominated by either at least two Oireachtas members or at last five constituency councils whose members constitute at least 10pc of the constituency membership.
TDs are to be sent a nomination form by the party's General Secretary Billie Sparks for PLP nominations.
A TD seeking nominations from constituencies will inform the General Secretary. Constituencies may decide not to nominate, but for those constituencies that do, meetings will then be convened by the General Secretary and will vote on whether they wish to nominate a candidate seeking their support.
If more than one candidate is nominated an election will be held and members are eligible to vote if they have been fully paid up for at least 18 months prior to the close of nominations.