Burton wins Labour crowncomfortably

By Niall O'Connor

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said she feels a "profound sense of responsibility" to the country after being declared Tanaiste and the first female leader of the Labour Party.

She comfortably beat her rival, Junior Health Minister Alex White, in the party's election, which followed a four-week campaign.

The Dublin West TD secured almost 78pc of the vote following a contest in which over 2,700 Labour members cast postal ballots.

Speaking after her victory, Ms Burton said the coalition has governed "perhaps too much with the head and not enough with the heart".

She indicated that TDs and councillors who quit the party since it entered power are welcome to reapply but added that they must show full support to Labour in government.

Ms Burton said she now wants to build the type of recovery that "provides a world of opportunity for every child" in the country.

"A social and economic recovery," she added.

Former Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore was present as Ms Burton was declared leader though cabinet ministers Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte were notable absentees.

Ms Burton joked that the two veteran politicians were "with us in spirit", adding that both had offered her their support.

Mr Quinn will step down as education minister in the upcoming reshuffle while Mr Rabbite is widely expected to lose his role as communications minister.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny congratulated Ms Burton and said: "We will meet early next week to discuss the Government's key priorities for the coming period, and changes in the composition of the Government.

He also paid tribute to Eamon Gilmore for his time as Tanaiste.