Joan Burton resigns as Labour leader

Announcement comes after disastrous general election result for party

joan burton, resignation, labour party

Joan Burton is flanked by party colleagues as she announces her resignation | RollingNews.ie

Joan Burton has announced her resignation as Labour leader following a poor general election performance for the party.

The former tánaiste made the announcement at a press conference in the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin.

The move comes after Labour lost 30 seats in February’s poll - a disastrous result for the party following a tumultuous term in office.

Deputy leader Alan Kelly and Cork East TD Sean Sherlock are expected to put their names forward for the upcoming leadership contest.

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.

The Dublin West TD said she had asked the executive board of the party to immediately make arrangements for the election of a new party leader.

She told reporters she was honoured to serve as Labour leader for two years, and as deputy leader before that.

“In 2011, the people of Ireland asked the Labour Party to take on the responsibility of government during the worst economic crisis this state has ever known,” she said.

“Like most of the party, I entered government with both hope and fear in my heart - hope that with unyielding effort and sustained policy implementation we could turn things around; fear that the situation had already deteriorated to a point of no return.

“In the five years that followed, the Labour Party stood by the Republic, helping people back to work, safeguarding the social protection system against those who would have stripped it to the bone, building new schools across the country, and securing the funding for a new social housing programme – while all the time dealing with the morass of failed banks and toxic banking debt.

“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.

"Despite February’s election result, I firmly believe we made the right decision in 2011.”

Ms Burton added that she was conscious “the recovery still hasn’t been felt in all homes” and that the party “couldn’t deliver quickly enough” for many people.

“We didn’t do everything right but I believe we left Ireland a better place than we found it – the true test for any party in government,” she said.

The outgoing Labour leader spoke to Newstalk this afternoon about what she hopes her legacy will be: