Who is in the running for the Labour leadership?

We profile the six potential candidates for the top job

Labour Party, leader, candidates, Alan Kelly, Brendan Howlin, Jan O'Sullivan,

Joan Burton announcing her resignation surrounded by party colleagues in the RHA Gallery in Dublin | Image: Rollingnews.ie

Outgoing Labour Party leader Joan Burton said yesterday the new leader “will take forward the fight” to build Ireland in the vision of James Connolly.

But who will that be?

The party has six TDs, and therefore there are six potential contenders for the top spot.

Anyone who puts themselves forward must be seconded by another TD.

If there is more than one candidate, it will then go to the parliamentary party for an election.

Any such election has to be held 45 days after nominations close.

Alan Kelly

The current deputy leader from Tipperary has come under some scrutiny in recent times for his approach to water charges.

As a former housing minister, the issue of homelessness has also dogged Mr Kelly frequently.

New rules from his former department mean landlords planning to increase rental prices would have to provide tenants with details of rents for three comparable properties.

He recently accused Fianna Fáil of committing "environmental treason" over plans to suspend the water charges – an indication of exactly where he stands on the controversial utility.

He has also asked all political parties to meet with Irish Water workers before any decision is made over the future of the company

Mr Kelly said in February that he was his own boss, saying he did not see his relationship with Ms Burton that way.

This is something that Ms Burton dismissed – when asked if she was his boss, replied: “Yes of course I am”.

While he famously told the Irish Independent at the end of January that power was “a drug”.

“It’s attractive. It’s something you thrive on. It suits some people. It doesn’t suit others. I think it suits me”.

Brendan Howlin

Brendan Howlin has twice run for the Labour leadership , and lost it both times.

In 1997 Ruairi Quinn took the role, while in 2002 it went to Pat Rabbitte.

The Wexford native told Newstalk Breakfast: "I believe I would have many deputies willing to second my nomination".

While his former colleague Pat Rabbitte said yesterday: “Brendan may well be persuadable...but I honestly don’t know whether he would be prepared”.

“We will have to pick up the pieces again. And we will do it. The task will not be easy but it will be done in a fair way”, Mr Howlin said on the general election outcome.

He has also been an advocate for public sector reform, as well as a supporter of the Gender Recognition Bill.

He has served as a TD for Wexford since 1987.

Jan O’Sullivan

The former education minister repealed a 50-year-old regulation that gives religion in primary schools a privileged status last year.

But the Limerick City TD has had a run in with teaching unions over plans to reform the junior cycle for students.

She is a former pre-school and secondary school teacher.

While still education minister, it was announced she would not attend this year’s teachers’ conferences.

One of her last acts as education minister was to announce funding of €30m for “major improvements” in primary and post primary schools around the country.

Some 197 schools were to be included in the first round of successful applicants who have been approved funding under the multi-annual Summer Works Scheme.

Speaking to Live 95 in Limerick, Ms O'Sullivan said she will make up her mind over the weekend about whether she will run.

Sean Sherlock

He has been a TD for Cork East since 2007.

He has served as Labour Party spokesperson on agriculture and food, Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation and Education & Skills with special responsibility for Research & Innovation.

He was most recently Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, with special responsibility for Trade Promotion, Development and North South Co-Operation. 

He ran for Labour Party deputy leader in 2014, losing to Alan Kelly.

Willie Penrose

First elected to the Dáil in 1992, he was re-elected in the 1997, 2002 and 2007 general elections.

 Prior to his election, the party had not had a seat in Westmeath since 1927.

 In the 1999 local elections, he won more than 42% of the votes in Mullingar West and in 2002 he topped the poll.

Speaking after the last general election, the Longford-Wesmeath TD said: “I think Joan Burton has served this party very loyally over a long number of years, through very difficult years”.

Brendan Ryan

Brendan Ryan was elected to the Dáil in 2011, after having been working in the Seanad since 2007.

While there he was party spokesperson on Education and Science, Transport and Defence and was a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise Trade and Employment.

He used his inaugural Dáil speech to discuss suicide prevention.

“I strongly believe, as I know all in this House do, that the task of suicide prevention needs increased attention from all sections in our society”, he said.

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