Smith and Ó Ríordáin rule themselves out of Labour leadership race

‘It’s not the right time for me,’ says Smith as both back Ivana Bacik for the role

Labour party TDs Duncan Smith and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin have ruled themselves out of the leadership race for the party in the wake of the resignation of Alan Kelly.

When it comes to leadership, any contender had to believe in themselves and that it was the right time. “It’s not the right time for me,” Mr Smith told RTÉ’s News at One. “I don’t believe I’m the best candidate. I won’t be putting myself forward.”

This afternoon Aodhán Ó Ríordáin also ruled himself out of the race. In a tweet, he said: "Like Duncan Smith I will not be a candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party at this time. Ivana Bacik has my full support to become the next leader of the Labour Party."

Mr Smith said he believed Ms Bacik was best placed to take on the role of party leader. He was her director of elections in the Dublin Bay South byelection and got to know her as a person and as a politician and “how she connects with people of all backgrounds”.

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On Wednesday night Mr Kelly confirmed his decision to resign in a statement delivered outside Leinster House. He acknowledged that the party had not made the progress he would have liked in opinion polls under his leadership.

Mr Kelly said that the party’s TDs and Senators had come to him this week to say they were no longer confident in his leadership.

The Labour Party was in a fight for its survival, to build back public trust. The decision to approach Mr Kelly followed weeks of meetings, but the move was not orchestrated, Mr Smith said. The action was going to have ramifications as party members were not happy.

Several party sources said Ms Bacik is the likely next leader, with one saying she is the “only candidate”. Mr Kelly said that a new leader will take up the reins shortly, and that he will stay on in the interim.