Labour leader contenders leave door open to government talks

Alan Kelly and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin both suggest it is a mistake to exclude party from process

Labour leadership condenders  Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (left) and Alan Kelly. File image: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Labour leadership condenders Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (left) and Alan Kelly. File image: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

The Labour Party’s two leadership contenders have left the door open for possible participation in the latter stages of government-formation, if a new administration has not been formed by April.

In comments that might have an influence on government-formation talks, both leadership contestants, Alan Kelly and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, suggested it was a mistake for the party to exclude itself completely from the current discussions occurring between other parties.

They were speaking on n Monday night, in the Clayton Silver Springs Hotel in Cork at what was the first of four hustings for party members in the leadership contest.

Mr Kelly said by excluding itself entirely from governmen formation talks Labour was rendering itself irrelevant again. He said he did not believe it was the time for the party to re-enter government but said it should be involved in discussions to see how its influence could be brought to bear from outside.

Similarly, Mr Ó Ríordáin said the party would not go into government but said it should be involved in discussions with other parties.

“If there is a dance going on I want to be dancing,” he said, adding the party was currently out of the loop.

As discussions on government-formation may still be ongoing at the time Labour elects a new leader in early April, the comments of Mr Kelly and Mr Ó Ríordáin could be received as a willingness by the party to participate at the later stages of the talk.

They were speaking in Cork, at the first of four leadership hustings that will be held by the party during March. The party has not been involved in any of the inter-party discussions to date following a decision of its parliamentary party days after the election.

Last week, the Green Party TD for Dun Laoghaire, Ossian Smyth, described Labour as the “villains of the piece” because of its refusal to enter discussions.