I want to lead Labour in future - Nash
But Junior Minister says he is staying loyal to Tánaiste
Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash has for the first time publicly expressed an ambition to lead the Labour Party.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Nash, who has been touted as a future leader, said he would give consideration to a leadership bid should the opportunity arise.
However, the Louth TD said there is currently no vacancy and insisted Tánaiste Joan Burton has his full support ahead of the General Election.
"I think anybody who is a TD and claims they never want to be leader of their party is probably lying," Mr Nash said.
"I support Joan Burton as leader of the Labour Party and I support Alan Kelly as deputy leader, I think they are working well together.
"Maybe at some stage in the future it might be something that I consider but there is no vacancy and there won't be a vacancy after the election because I know Joan will continue to lead the party and she will have my support," he added.
Mr Nash's comment follows Mr Kelly, the Environment Minister, expressing an interest in leading the party during an interview last weekend.
Mr Kelly also echoed Mr Nash's comments saying there is no vacancy and insisted he would not seek to dethrone the Tánaiste as he does not do "blood on the floor".
Last weekend, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin also refused to rule out a third bid for the leadership should Ms Burton step aside.
Asked three times by the Irish Independent, Mr Howlin refused to answer and also backed Ms Burton's current stewardship.
Mr Nash supported Ms Burton during the last Labour Party leader election and backed Mr Kelly for the deputy position.
He said suggestions that the leader and her deputy are at loggerheads is "over-egged" and insisted their relationship will not have a negative impact on the outcome of the forthcoming election for the Labour Party.
"Joan and Alan are very different characters but ultimately they work very well together and they have delivered some very positive things for the Labour Party and if there was a leadership election again tomorrow, if we were re-running that election campaign, I would still vote for the two of them," he added.
Following his work on the Low Pay Commission, which resulted in the minimum wage increasing to €9.15 from January, Mr Nash has been touted as future leader of the party.
He is also seen as being close to the trade unions, which command significant influence over Labour voters, after his work on the sale of State's share in Aer Lingus.
Mr Nash said the controversial Aer Lingus deal, which he thrashed out with Fine Gael's Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, was one of his "proudest moments" as a member of Cabinet.
He said Labour was able to secure registered employment agreements for Aer Lingus employees because of the good working relationship they have with their Coalition partner.
"There is an open door from our Fine Gael colleagues who understand how difficult that may have been for us," he added.
Mr Nash is facing a tough election in the five-seat Louth constituency were he is up against Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and sitting Fine Gael TDs Fergus O'Dowd and Peter Fitzpatrick. Fianna Fáil is running two candidates and tipped to take a seat.