Kelly not leaving Labour after Howlin secures leadership

Tipperary TD says contest would have seen best candidate emerge with ‘a clear mandate’

Brendan Howlin is the new leader of the Labour Party. Pat Leahy Deputy Political Editor of The Irish Times reports on the challenges facing the Wexford TD. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

Alan Kelly is not considering leaving the Labour Party despite failing to attend a press conference announcing their new leader.

Mr Kelly had wished to contest for the position but failed to secure the backing of another TD to second his nomination.

Brendan Howlin was surrounded by his parliamentary party after he was elected leader of the party. Mr Kelly did not attend the announcement.

Sources close to the Tipperary TD said there was no question of him ever departing the party.

“Labour is in Alan’s DNA. The Alan Kelly I know would never walk away from the party.”

Mr Howlin, who became the 12th leader of the party on Friday, said he was disappointed Mr Kelly did not attend the event.

However he said the Tipperary TD was a good friend and colleague with great passion and ability.

In a statement Mr Kelly said: “I wish Brendan Howlin well as leader of the Labour Party and congratulate him on what is a proud day for him, his family, friends and supporters”.

“Over the past week I sought to ensure that the leadership of the party would be chosen by the members, by way of a contest and a democratic election.”

“I further thought that a shortened contest would allow for re-engagement with our members and ensure a contest based on vision and ideas for the future direction of the party, where the best candidate would emerge with a clear mandate,”

“The rest of the parliamentary party took a different view to what I believe is the members’ wish and entitlement. I want to thank the huge volume of members who have confirmed that view to me.”

At the press conference Mr Howlin confirmed he would be reaching out to former Labour colleagues Roisin Shortall and Tommy Broughan and others about forming a progressive party.

Mr Howlin said he was immensely proud and deeply humbled to become party leader and was confident the party could rebuild.

He defended the party’s decision to go into government in 2011, despite losing 30 of its 37 Dáil seats. Mr Howlin said the leadership was a big challenge but one he was up for.

He said: “I have set out my stall. Mine will be a shared leadership. We are 12 parliamentarians, but we are hungry and determined. We have 50 councillors and thousands of supporters.

“I will devote all my energy to not letting them down.”

The Wexford TD achieved the backing of the parliamentary party for the role who agreed there should be a consensus candidate reached.

Under Labour Party rules only TDs can serve as leader of the party and only TDs can propose and second a candidate.

Mr Howlin has been a TD for Wexford since 1987 and has served as a minister for public expenditure, health and environment.

He contested for the leadership twice before but lost out. He served as deputy leader of the party in 1997.