Joan Burton expected to resist calls to stand down

Labour Party leader will meet candidates today to discuss the future of the party

Tánaiste Joan Burton is expected to resist calls today to step down as leader of the Labour Party.

She is to meet all candidates who stood in the general election for a discussion in Citywest this afternoon on the future of the party, which won only seven seats in last month’s general election, compared with 37 in 2011.

A number of party members said demands for her resignation were inevitable and insisted that process must begin immediately.

One former Labour TD said: “If any other leader was in the position Joan is in now they would resign at the earliest opportunity. I don’t know what her thinking is but she cannot stay on in her current position. We took an absolute roasting. She did her best but she seems to think nothing has happened.”

Another former TD said: "We have had the worst election in our history. Joan cannot put herself forward with any credibility. It made no difference when Eamon Gilmore stepped down as leader. If anything it made it worse."

Ms Burton is said to be eager to remain on as leader until Government negotiations have concluded and a second election has been ruled out.

Labour’s rules state there must be an election for a leader or a deputy leader within six months of an election.

Former whip Emmett Stagg confirmed he would be raising the issue at the meeting, which begins at 2pm. He said: "I will be asking when the preparation for an election for the leadership can begin and will be stressing it should happen at the earliest opportunity."

Of the party's seven elected representatives, three are said to be serious contenders for the position. Deputy leader Alan Kelly, minister of state Seán Sherlock and minister for public expenditure Brendan Howlin are said to be interested.

The party is anxious for Mr Howlin to take over but it is understood he will only accept the role if uncontested.

Labour members will also discuss the future of the party and the campaign itself.

Former minister of state Joe Costello said the voting pact with Fine Gael was the "umbilical chord" and meant the party found it difficult to be distinct from their coalition colleagues.