Thursday 23 November 2017

Joan Burton expected to announce candidature for Labour leadership

Minister of State Alex White, one of the contenders for the leadership.
Minister of State Alex White, one of the contenders for the leadership.

Niall O'Connor, Daniel McConnell and Fionnan Sheahan

Joan Burton is expected announce her candidature for the leadership of the Labour party later today.

The Minister for Social Protection is expected to make the move - with Minister Brendan Howlin, and junior ministers Alex White and Alan Kelly also hotly tipped to make a run for the position.

Nominations for the position opened last night.

Meanwhile, Alex White's prospects of becoming Labour leader have been "severely damaged" as a result of his involvement in the plot to remove Eamon Gilmore, party colleagues believe.

A number of members of the parliamentary party say they would have considered Mr White as a future leader of the party had he not tried to "shaft" the Tanaiste.

The junior health minister was last night actively canvassing members of the party and will declare his candidacy shortly.

But Mr White's leadership bid has already hit a snag after the Irish Independent detailed his knowledge of plans to oust Mr Gilmore from his position.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said the involvement of Mr White in a move to oust Mr Gilmore was not the behaviour he would have expected of a junior minister.

Mr White was in "constant contact" with the so-called gang-of-eight who lodged a vote of no confidence in Mr Gilmore just hours before he resigned on Monday.

The minister pledged his support for the vote of no confidence, and would have threatened to quit his ministerial position had Mr Gilmore not stepped down.

But Mr Gilmore had already decided to quit as leader on Sunday night, unbeknown to Mr White and the gang-of-eight.

Meanwhile, four likely contenders are already in the hunt to become the next Labour leader.

Social Protection Minister and deputy Labour leader Joan Burton is the perceived front runner, and is expected to announce her candidacy today. Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said he will consider what role he has to play in the party's future over the next "couple of days".

Two junior ministers, Alan Kelly and Alex White, are both in contention with Mr Kelly yesterday publicly declaring his intention to stand. Mr Kelly said he felt "a generational change" was needed at leadership level.

He said senators, TDs and councillors had given him a lot of support in recent weeks.

Junior health minister Mr White is now "seriously considering" contesting the leadership and will make his position known later today after the parliamentary party meeting.

Another junior minister, Sean Sherlock, took to Twitter to rule himself out.

Two of the gang-of-eight, Dublin North Central TD Aodhan O Riordain and Waterford TD Ciara Conway, both expressed a willingness to contest for deputy leader.

Others in contention include Kerry TD Arthur Spring, Dublin South East TD Kevin Humphries and Wicklow TD Anne Ferris.

Nominations officially opened last night and are to close on June 3. There will be a postal ballot, which is to close on July 4.

Irish Independent

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