Irish Republican News · May 21, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: New leader for Labour as Kenny digs in amid justice scandal
New leader for Labour as Kenny digs in amid justice scandal

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Wexford TD Brendan Howlin has been named as the new leader of the Labour Party in the 26 Counties as the politic system in Dublin continues to stumble following the formation of a minority government earlier this month.

Mr Howlin was surrounded by his parliamentary party after he was named the new leader of the party on Friday. Mr Kelly did not attend the announcement.

Howlin, the former Minister for Public Expenditure in the last government, said that he hoped Alan Kelly, the Tipperary TD who was his rival for the position of Labour leader, would continue to work with him. Kelly’s own leadership bid was stymied when he failed to secure the backing of a single Labour TD to second his nomination.

At the press conference Mr Howlin said he also would be reaching out to Labour defectors Roisin Shortall and Tommy Broughan and others about forming a “progressive” party.

He defended the party’s decision to form a right-wing coalition government in 2011, which ended up costing the party 30 of its 37 Dail seats.

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.”

Meanwhile, the recently returned Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny sought to bolster his own personal support by increasing the number of junior ministers from 15 to 18, drawing fresh accusations of pork-barrel politics and “jobs for the boys”.

He saidd he was justified in his plans to serve a full term in office, reaffirmed on Monday, despite Fine Gael’s disastrous performance in February’s general election, when the party lost 26 seats. It had been believed that Kenny would step down in about 18 months to give his successor time to ‘bed in’ for another election, assuming that the new minority government survives that long.

Kenny, said that Fine Gael was a “broad party” and he enjoyed “very strong support”. However, he is already under pressure with a fresh scandal over the treatment of a prominent Garda police whistleblower.

There have been calls for his Justice Minister and Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald to resign after she failed to respond to a scandal over a smear campaign apparently ordered by Garda Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan. Lawyers acting under instruction by the new chief of police in the 26 Counties had sought to undermine Sgt Maurice McCabe with fabricated claims that he had privately admitted making allegations of misconduct “out of malice”.

The alleged admissions appeared in the transcripts at the O’Higgins inquiry into Garda malpractice. Sgt McCabe subsequently produced a tape recording of the meeting in question which showed he made no such comments.

Fitzgerald, who is both Minister for Justice and Tanaiste, is under serious pressure on the matter after she refused to state whether she was surprised by the stance taken by Ms O’Sullivan’s legal team and also refused to say whether she had full confidence in the commissioner.

In parliament, Independent Mick Wallace said that, only for Sgt McCabe recording the meeting, the judge would have had to believe the smear and Sgt McCabe “would have been destroyed”.

His colleague, Clare Daly, under privilege, called on Ms O’Sullivan to go. and warned Ms Fitzgerald to abandon her or risk her own position.

“It is time for this commissioner to go and unless you act, she’s going to take you with her,” said Ms Daly.

Mr Adams said the response to allegations of wrongdoing in the Garda had been to attack whistle-blowers and their supporters.

“It’s now a matter of fact that they were smeared and they were bullied,” he said. “People here (in the Dail) who raised these issues were also smeared. Measured, rational propositions from Sinn Fein and others were ridiculed by the government, including An Taoiseach.”

© 2016 Irish Republican News