A labour of love? What next for Burton and the Labour Party

Pat Rabbitte says he hopes Brendan Howlin will run for leader

Joan Burton, resignation, Labour Party, leadership, Alan Kelly, Sean Sherlock, Pat Rabbitte

File photo | Image: RollingNews.ie

Joan Burton looks set to step down as leader of the Labour Party, following its performance in the general election.

The former coalition partners have only seven TDs in the 32nd Dáil.

Speculation is rife as to who will step up to the plate to take the position.

The deputy leader Alan Kelly and Sean Sherlock look set to put their names forward – while it is not clear if Brendan Howlin will be a challenger.

Former Junior Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin had been tipped as a potential party leader, but lost his Dublin Bay North seat in the March election.

Labour’s constitution requires a leadership contest if the party is not in government after a general election.

But Mr Kelly has been seen as a divisive figure for some, particularly in relation to Irish Water.

Pat Rabbitte is a former Communications Minister and Labour leader.

He told the Pat Kenny Show here on Newstalk Ms Burton's resignation is inevitable.

“Immediately after the election she indicated to a meeting of the former parliamentary party and newly-elected TDs at Citywest that she would make her decision as soon as the government was appointed”.

On the next leader, he said: “I would hope that some of the last ten weeks have been taken up in thrashing all of this out behind closed doors”.

“I think an agreed candidate would have been the wisest option for the party”.

“I would attempt to persuade Brendan Howlin”

On Mr Howlin, Mr Rabbitte said: “Brendan may well be persuadable...but I honestly don’t know whether he would be prepared”.

But he also believes Mr Kelly will have no problem taking the top job: “I don’t think there’s any doubt about Alan Kelly being prepared to accept the job”.

“Some have suggested that the former Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan, if she were prepared to come forward as compromise candidate – or however you might call it - she would have a lot of support”.

Asked who he would want to lead the party in the short-term, he replied: “I think that’s a hard question that you will find the membership of the Labour Party divide(d) on that issue”.

“If I were still in the parliamentary party, I would be attempting to persuade Brendan Howlin...it is a question of transition to a new Dáil parliamentary party, where some of the young people who lost their seats will be back in the Dáil in the future”.

“The man’s capacity, politically, and his experience – he has immense experience – would be appropriate in the times that we’re in”.

 “I think it’s absolutely critical that whoever is leading (the party) keeps together the core of defeated deputies and Senators and councillors – because there’s a wealth of experience there”.