Saturday 21 July 2018

Alan Kelly under fire for warning Howlin about Labour's fortunes

Labour leader Brendan Howlin with Alan Kelly
Labour leader Brendan Howlin with Alan Kelly
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

TD Alan Kelly has come under fire from his Labour colleagues after he warned leader Brendan Howlin that he has less than six months to turn the party’s fortunes around.

At a private meeting of Labour TDs and senators, Mr Kelly was strongly criticised for the intervention.

Sources present said he cast an isolated figure as the entire parliamentary party rallied behind Mr Howlin and called for a sense of unity.

Mr Kelly was told his intervention was deeply unhelpful and that any issues he has in future should be dealt with privately at the parliamentary party meetings.

The ex-Environment minister retorted, saying that he was merely being honest in his views that the party needed to better connect with the grassroots.

But he was shot down by colleagues, with one telling Independent.ie that there was the clear view expressed that there is "one leader" who has the full support of TDs and senators.

Mr Kelly is said to have accepted this position.

Sources present said it was clear that Mr Kelly was speaking in isolation.

"There is a sense that people are coming back to the Labour Party and that this intervention was unhelpful," one said.

Other sources within the party have said they believe things do need to change - but Mr Kelly was wrong in his approach.

Labour, which was reduced to just seven TDs in the last general election from a record high of 37 deputies in the previous contest in 2011, has struggled badly in the opinion polls over the past 18 months.

Mr Kelly, a former Environment Minister, tried to contest the leadership in May 2016. But after a prolonged stand-off he failed to get a TD to second his nomination, and Mr Howlin was eventually returned as leader without a vote of the party members.

Since then, relations between the two TDs have been tense, and Mr Kelly, a TD for Tipperary, has made no secret of his ambitions to lead the Labour Party soon.

Appearing on TV3 on Sunday afternoon, he told presenter, Sarah McInerney, that Mr Howlin had his support as leader but he also warned that time was running short.

Deputy Kelly said: "Brendan Howlin has my support, however, however - let me say this very clearly - we need to see a dramatic change in how our support base is responding to us," he said.

"We also need to see changes across a whole range of other issues.

"We are now two years from the past general election. We have loads of brilliant councillors and candidates out there. We need to see a dramatic change in the coming months for the support base of the Labour Party," he added.

Other sources within the party have said they believe things do need to change - but Mr Kelly was wrong in his approach.

Online Editors

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