Motion on leadership election withdrawn
A motion to change the leadership election rules was withdrawn at the conference in an effort to dampen speculation about a potential contest. The chairman of the Dublin South East constituency, where the Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, is TD, withdrew the motion calling for all party members to have a vote.
Currently, only the parliamentary party can elect the leader, and Mr Michael McInerney said the majority of Dublin South East members believed the contest would "benefit from a wider electorate", as in the contest for Labour leader last year.
He expressed confidence that the Tánaiste would in four years' time be successfully leading the party into the next general election and that there was "no leadership contest on this party's horizon".
The issue of "broader suffrage" would be referred to a special rules conference in the autumn.
Later the Minister himself said he was concerned with building up the party for maximum electoral success at the local elections and the next general election "under the same leadership".
He said he supported the involvement of the membership in the election of leader because it encouraged people to be inclusive in the organisation of the party.
When it was put to him that the party leader had warned of the danger of a leadership election being "hijacked" if it was a one-man-one-vote system, Mr McDowell agreed it might be a problem if membership was strictly about paying €5 to join the party.
There was "absolutely no rift" with Ms Harney over this issue.