Saturday 16 December 2017

Howlin hands top frontbench post to rival Kelly

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin with Oireachtas and former members on Kildare Street yesterday Photo: Tom Burke
Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin with Oireachtas and former members on Kildare Street yesterday Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

New Labour leader Brendan Howlin extended an olive branch to leadership rival Alan Kelly, making him part of his new frontbench team.

Mr Howlin included seven former TDs in his new line-up in a clear effort to boost their re-election prospects by trying to maintain their profiles. He also said he was trying to step up the involvement of the party's 50 city and county councillors, giving them a special role to help him rebuild the party.

The party was reduced to seven Dáil seats in February, a huge loss of 30 TDs from its 2011 record haul of 37.

Mr Howlin gave a frontline post to Mr Kelly, the man who would have contested the leadership against him last month but failed for lack of a seconder, to trigger an election by the party's 4,000 members.

Mr Kelly is in charge of health and jobs, marking two Government newcomers, Simon Harris and Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

As former Environment Minister responsible for Irish Water, Mr Kelly relinquishes that responsibility to Jan O'Sullivan, who will speak on the issues which closest correspond to the old environment department.

Each of the seven TDs and five senators have been given jobs. The seven former TDs who received a call-up are Joe Costello (urban renewal); Joanna Tuffy (lifelong learning); Michael McNamara (international tax justice); Emmet Stagg (older people); Kathleen Lynch (mental health); Alex White (constitutional reform); and Ciarán Lynch (housing and retail).

The Dáil members all have to double up on heavy-duty spokesperson jobs, marking several ministers. The TDs and their new posts are: Brendan Howlin (party leader and justice and Northern Ireland spokesperson); Joan Burton (finance, education and arts); Alan Kelly (health and jobs); Jan O'Sullivan (housing, planning, local government and children and youth affairs); Willie Penrose (agriculture, food and marine and social protection); Brendan Ryan (party whip and transport, tourism and sport, and defence); and Sean Sherlock (public expenditure and reform, communications, climate change and natural resources).

The new senators' responsibilities are: Ivana Bacik (Seanad leader and foreign affairs); Kevin Humphreys (Seanad whip and Dublin); Denis Landy (regional development and local government reform); Ged Nash (equality, labour affairs and workers' rights); and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (sustainable development and Gaeltacht affairs).

Mr Howlin said the election outcome was a disappointment for Labour. But he added the "new Government is a coalition of chaos."

Irish Independent

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