Labour’s Brendan Howlin will not seek to be next Ceann Comhairle

Party leader does not believe another general election will be needed to form a government

Labour leader Brendan Howlin (centre) is pictured  with senators  Ivana Bacik and Kevin Humphreys as the party’s executive board  met to set the rules for the contest to decide who will succeed him. Photograph: Damien Eagers/The Irish Times.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin (centre) is pictured with senators Ivana Bacik and Kevin Humphreys as the party’s executive board met to set the rules for the contest to decide who will succeed him. Photograph: Damien Eagers/The Irish Times.

 

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has said he will not put himself forward as a candidate to replace outgoing Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Mr Howlin, who has been linked to the role as speaker of the Dáil, said: “The position of Ceann Comhairle is a very important one in the House, one I have enormous respect for, but it is not one that I intend to offer myself as a candidate to fill.”

The Wexford TD also indicated that the party would be willing to support government legislatoin on a case-by-case basis from the opposition benches in the next Dáil.

“I’ve sought the authorisation of my own colleagues here to ensure that we advance those and support any proposals that are in line with our proposals to solve the housing and health crises in particular,” he said.

He was speaking outside a meeting of Labour’s central council on Saturday, which agreed the rules and timeframe for a vote to replace him as leader of the party. He announced on Wednesday that he would be stepping down.

Candidates will have until next Friday to announce they are seeking nominations from the party’s group of six TDs. An alternate route to nomination, involving constituency organisations, will be open until the following February 28th, although it is not anticipated this will be used. Polling day is April 3rd, with ballots to be returned on or before that day.

Interested

Three candidates - Tipperary’s Alan Kelly, Dublin Bay North TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Ged Nash from Louth - are thought to be interested in the role.

However, it is anticipated that only one of Mr Nash and Mr Ó Ríordáin will go forward for the contest.

The full Labour Party membership is the electorate for the contest, numbering at least 2,500 people, but that may rise as high as 5,000 depending on whether memberships are reactivated before polling day.

A series of hustings will take place around the country, most likely in Galway, Cork, Limerick, Dublin and the midlands, as well as events organised by Labour’s constituent organisations, such as Labour Youth and Labour Women.

Mr Howlin said he does not believe another general election will be needed to form a government. Labour saw its number of seats fall from seven to six after last weekend’s poll.

“I think people would look at the outcome of the people’s decision and the people’s decision has to be accepted, and there is no reason to believe if they were asked again, they’d come to a different decision, in my judgement. You have to deal with the forces that are there,” he said.

He admitted the general election “wasn’t great for us because the sea-change of support for Sinn Féin wasn’t seen by everybody and a lot of people, I’m afraid, had made up their minds before the campaign had started”.

“The Labour Party, under a new leader, will be, in my view, central to the formulation of public policy in this country for the decades to come as it has been a progressive force for change and improvement in the decades up to now,” he said.