Monday 19 March 2018

The next Labour leader: who's in line to take over?

Who will be the next Labour leader? Left- right: Sean Sherlock, Brendan Howlin and Alan Kelly
Who will be the next Labour leader? Left- right: Sean Sherlock, Brendan Howlin and Alan Kelly
Alan Kelly TD (Picture: Damien Eagers)
Brendan Howlin (Picture: Tom Burke)
Sean Sherlock TD (Picture: Tom Burke)

Joan Burton announced her resignation as leader of the Labour party yesterday - but who will be her successor?

Ms Burton said she will step aside as soon as one of her colleagues is chosen - but that could take more than six weeks if there is a contest.

None of the party's TDs would confirm yesterday whether they will seek a nomination for the leadership but several expressed a wish to avoid a lengthy battle for power.

Here who's in line to take over:

Alan Kelly (40)

Unashamedly ambitious and occasionally abrasive - his nickname is AK-47 - Alan Kelly (40) may be the frontrunner to succeed Joan Burton, if only because he appears to want it most.

The Tipperary TD and outgoing Environment Minister gave an infamous interview during the campaign, where he said power was "a drug". He later told Labour colleagues he regretted the remarks.

The former Senator and MEP was appointed as a minister in 2014 and was immediately hit with mass anti-water charge protests.

The father-of-two impressed in the Dáil in recent weeks, branding the Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil deal to suspend the charges as "environmental sabotage".

Last night, he said he'll make his leadership intentions "very clear" once the party's executive board decides on the process to replace Ms Burton.

Cork East deputy Seán Sherlock (43) bucked the trend for Labour on election day by getting the most votes of any candidate in his constituency.

He's a former mayor of his hometown Mallow and was first elected to the Dáil in 2007. He served in two junior minister posts in the last government - first in charge of research and innovation at the Department of Jobs and later as Trade Minister. Mr Sherlock is popular in the party and would put up a good fight against Kelly. He is keeping his cards close to his chest however, last night, saying: "Really, today is about Joan."

Brendan Howlin (60)

Long-time Wexford TD Brendan Howlin (60) turned 60 this week and is now considering if he wants to have one more crack at the leadership. He ran twice before and is being mentioned as someone who could be a "consensus candidate" and whose selection could avoid a potentially divisive contest.

"I'm not ruling anything out or in," he said on the leadership last night. First elected to the Dáil in 1987, he was Minister for Health and later Environment in the rainbow coalition of the 1990s. He developed a good relationship with Finance Minister Michael Noonan while he was a minister at Public Expenditure and may be pitted against him as finance spokesman.

Irish Independent

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