Alan Kelly committed to securing Labour recovery

Tipperary TD moves on after failing to gain seconders for leadership bid

Alan Kelly has vowed to devote himself to the task of rebuilding the Labour Party, despite his disappointment at being squeezed out of running for the leadership.

Following conversations with his new party leader Brendan Howlin, Mr Kelly said on Sunday he intended to play a big role in helping the party to recover.

“Brendan told me that he sees me having a senior role in the rebuilding of the party and I am happy to do that. I will be meeting Brendan again this week to discuss everything,” said Mr Kelly.

The Tipperary TD was prevented from entering the leadership race because he could not secure a seconder for his nomination among the other six Labour TDs. He failed to show up at a press conference on Friday at which the new leader was unveiled.


Mr Howlin said in an interview on RTÉ Radio's This Week programme on Sunday he had spoken to Mr Kelly twice in the previous 24 hours.

“He is in fine form. He is looking forward to getting back into action as part of the Labour team,” he said.

“We have discussed at length the importance of the role that he will play in a small Labour team that we have now where everybody must be in the front line of delivery.”

He said all Labour TDs would have not only a front- bench role marking a member of the Government but also a responsibility to develop the party.

Mr Howlin said he did not believe the current Fine Gael Government supported by gene-pool Fine Gael TDs would be a reforming government like the last one.

“We know how hard we had to push to get legislation in the X case and to ensure we had a referendum on marriage equality. Mind you, some people were delighted to take credit for the referendum when it proved to be popular.”

He also expressed the hope that President Michael D Higgins would run for a second term in 2018 but said he had not spoken to him about it.

Mr Howlin expressed confidence in the Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, following the controversy that has developed in the wake of the O’Higgins commission report. However, he said there was a need to be convinced Ms O’Sullivan was driving the fundamental change needed to reform An Garda Síochána and that she was completely intolerant of the suppression of whistleblowers.

He said he had no confidence in the Department of Justice to drive change in the Garda, as he felt the relationship between the department and the force was too close.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times