Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Ged Nash in talks over Labour leadership
Alan Kelly confirmed to be candidate for top job following Brendan Howlin’s resignation
Ged Nash with Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin at a pre-election event. Photograph: Alan Betson
Labour TDs Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Ged Nash are understood to be in consultation about which one of them should stand for the leadership of the Labour Party.
Sources close to the Tipperary TD Alan Kelly confirmed on Thursday night that he will be a candidate. Mr Kelly is understood to have been in contact with a large number of supporters in recent day with a view to making a bid for the leadership.
Mr Ó Ríordáin and Mr Nash are close politically, and party sources said that they would be unlikely to run against each other. The two men were seen having coffee together in Dublin on Thursday.
However, there is concern that as both TDs have just been re-elected to the Dail, having lost their seats in 2016, they may need to consolidate their positions in their respective constituencies.
Mr Kelly held his seat in 2016 and again at last week’s election. However, despite being one of the party’s most high profile TDs – he was especially prominent during the cervical check controversy – he has sometimes tended to be isolated in the parliamentary party. He failed to secure a nomination from any of his colleagues to run for the leadership when Joan Burton stepped down in 2016, meaning that Brendan Howlin was unopposed for the leadership.
But party sources accept that Mr Kelly is likely to be a candidate this time. Even if he does not obtain a nomination from his parliamentary party colleagues, he can be nominated by five constituency councils.
Cork East TD Seán Sherlock has ruled himself out of contention.
The executive board of the party will meet on Saturday to appoint a returning officer and set the ground rules for the election, a party spokesman said. That will be followed by a meeting of the party’s central council, which will open nominations for the forthcoming Seanad election.
The contest is expected to take about six weeks, and a series of hustings – assuming there is a contest – will be organised by the party. Other election events are likely to be organised by individual constituencies.
Only party TDs are eligible for the post, and candidates must be nominated by either two TDs (they can nominate themselves) or five constituency councils. All members of the party have a vote.
Mr Howlin announced his resignation on Wednesday after another disappointing election for the Labour Party, albeit one in which it managed to win new seats with a younger generation of TDs to replace the loss of seats held by Joan Burton and Jan O’Sullivan. The party won six seats in the 2020 general election, down from a high of 37 in 2011.