Three Labour candidates for deputy leadership

Sherlock and McCarthy join Kelly in bid for second-in-command position

Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly has announced he intends to contest the election for the post of deputy leader of the Labour Party.


Two new candidates have emerged as contenders for the Labour Party deputy leadership this lunchtime.

Minister of State for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock and fellow Cork TD Michael McCarthy have joined Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly, who announced he intends to contest the election for the post of deputy leader of the Labour Party this morning.

Mr Sherlock said he wanted to be part of Labour’s “process of renewal”.

He said he had the energy and capability to try implement a new agenda with a new leader.

“The Government has a mandate and I intend to see that mandate fulfilled so that in 2016 we can hand back to the people an economy and a society that they can be proud of,” Mr Sherlock said.

Mr McCarthy, who represents Cork South-West, said the party needed to “revaluate the old and embrace the new”.

He said as deputy leader her could restore the party’s confidence in itself and “provide confidence in ensuring our vision for Ireland is one of a better, stronger, fairer Ireland”.

Mr Kelly revealed his intentions outside Leinster House this morning, a day after Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton declared her candidacy to replace Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore as party leader.

“I was born into the Labour Party. It’s in my very DNA,” he said.

Asked if he was supporting Ms Burton as leader, Mr Kelly said she would be “fantastic” but it would be inappropriate to comment before next Tuesday when all candidates were announced.

However, Mr Kelly was accompanied at the announcement by Carlow Kilkenny TD Ann Phelan, who proposed Ms Burton for the leadership contest. Ms Phelan said the combination of Ms Burton and Mr Kelly would be her dream ticket.

Also accompanying Mr Kelly were the influential Westmeath TD Willie Penrose and Louth TD Ged Nash, one of the first-time deputies who proposed the motion of no confidence in Mr Gilmore.

Mr Kelly said the Labour Party “needs to get back to its roots” and focus on working people and those looking to get work.

“I’m 38 years old, I know a lot of people of my generation who are struggling. People I went to school with, people I went to college with, friends of mine, and these people really need to be supported in the coming years,” he said.

He said this Government should fulfil its term but not “ at all costs”. The Programme for Government should be looked at, he said.

Mr Kelly said his achievements in the Department of Transport included the introduction of the Leap Card and his work on rural transport and bicycle schemes.

Mr Kelly was also publicly backed by Dublin TD Robert Dowds and Senators John Whelan, Marie Maloney and John Kelly. MEP candidates Phil Prendergast and Lorraine Higgins had also back him, he said.

He emphasised he had been a Senator, TD, MEP and Minister of State in the last number of years.

Ms Burton remains the only declared candidate for the party leadership, but Minister of State for Health Alex White is thought likely to declare his intentions in the coming days.

A Burton/Kelly ticket would provide geographical and gender balance.

This morning, Labour TD for Kerry Arthur Spring said he was considering putting his name forward for both the positions of leader and deputy leader, once he had assessed the level of support he would have. He said he had party colleagues willing to propose and second him for both positions.

“I’m going to do an awful lot of soul-searching to see what I can bring to the table myself,” he said. “I’m going to try and devise a plan for the re-engagement of the Labour Party with the Irish people.”

Mr Spring told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme the party should have a contest for the leadership.

“We are wounded and I think people need to have a process of engagement,” he said.

Fellow Labour backbencher Dominic Hannigan also said yesterday he was considering running for leader or deputy leader.

Nominations will close at noon on Tuesday and ballot papers will be issued on June 9th if there is a contest for either position. The ballots have to be returned by noon on Friday, July 4th, and the count will take place immediately.

The party’s legal adviser, Richard Humphreys, will be the returning officer and the party auditors will be independent observers.

All 5,000 or so paid-up members of the party will be entitled to vote. Members are entitled to pay arrears going back two years to get on the register.