Departure of Burton sets up Labour leadership contest
Departure of Burton sets up Labour leadership contest


The long-awaited announcement by Joan Burton of her resignation as leader of the Labour Party has triggered a power battle within the party.

The move comes after Labour lost 30 seats in February’s poll - a disastrous result for the party following a tumultuous term in office. Founded by socialist republican James Connolly, the party has fallen into decline in recent years as it become increasingly reactionary and right-wing.

Ms Burton, who was elected leader after the resignation of Eamon Gilmore in 2014, said her resignation will take effect once her successor has been chosen.

Deputy leader Alan Kelly and Cork East TD Sean Sherlock are expected to put their names forward for the upcoming leadership contest. It is understood that former Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin may stand, but only if his election is uncontested.

Under Labour rules leadership candidates must be nominated by a TD and seconded by a TD, limiting the options for candidates, as the party has only seven TDs.

In a melodramatic resignation speech, Burton sought sympathy despite becoming the focus of public anger over her role in eroding social welfare supports.

“In everything we did, our overriding focus was to bring about recovery so that families could face the future with hope rather than despair, and so that communities could once again prosper,” she declared. “Despite February’s election result, I firmly believe we made the right decision in 2011 [to enter coalition with Fine Gael].”

The Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny thanked Burton and credited her with taking “tough decisions” which had reduced unemployment from over 15% to 8.4%.

Labour TD and former minister for the environment Alan Kelly has said he hopes to run unopposed for the role of Labour Leader Mr Kelly, who admitted that he was “power is a drug” during the election campaign earlier this year, again affirmed his lust to be party leader.

“I’d love to be [Labour Leader]. It’s been an ambition of mine all my life,” he told the RTE Late Late show. “I think I would be a great leader,” he added.


* Renua leader Lucinda Creighton, who lost her seat in the general election in February, has also resigned from her party leadership saying it was time to “allow new voices to be heard”. Speaking at a meeting in Portlaoise on Saturday morning, she acknowledged “key mistakes” had been made, and accepted that the party’s flat tax proposal had been rejected by voters.

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