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Dublin: 4 °C Saturday 24 March, 2018

Joan Burton will decide her fate as Labour leader after a government is formed

Meanwhile, Alan Kelly apologised for comments he made about power being a drug that suited him.

Joan Burton
Joan Burton
Image: Sam Boal/

Updated 9.10pm

JOAN BURTON HAS told the Labour party she will make a decision on her leadership after a government is formed.

Several former Labour TDs called for a leadership contest while the party met to discuss its disastrous election in Dublin today.

The party’s seven TDs, former deputies, outgoing senators and failed candidates gathered at Citywest to discuss the worst election in Labour’s 104-year history where it lost 26 seats.

The meeting was due to run until 6pm although sources inside the room earlier indicated it would run much longer.

During the meeting, the party’s deputy leader Alan Kelly apologised for saying power is a drug that suits him in a Sunday Independent interview in the run up to the election.

He told the meeting he regretted doing the interview.

‘Frank and productive’ 

The well-attended meeting has been described as “frank and productive” by one participant. Burton’s leadership has been raised by several participants.

Several of those who lost their Dáil seats last month told the media beforehand that it is time for Burton to step down.

Former Cork South-West TD Michael McCarthy said the leadership issue needs to be addressed “sooner rather than later” and if that means Burton’s departure “so be it”.

5071 Labour Meetings Brendan Howlin arriving at Citywest today Source: Sam Boal

Former banking inquiry chair Ciarán Lynch said “new leadership is required” as part of the process of rebuilding the party.

Former Dublin North-West TD John Lyons said that the leadership is a matter for Burton, but was among several who backed Brendan Howlin – who twice ran for Labour leader in the past – to succeed the Tánaiste.

Burton has yet to address the meeting on her leadership, but is likely to resist calls to immediately step down.

She declined to comment on the issue on her way in, as did Howlin.

Under Labour’s constitution a leadership election must be held within six months of the general election. Only TDs can contest for the role with Howlin, deputy leader Alan Kelly and outgoing junior minister Seán Sherlock the favourites.

4859 Labour Meetings Former TDs John Lyons and Ciarán Lynch at Citywest today Source: Sam Boal

The process involves candidate hustings around the country and a postal ballot with all of Labour’s roughly 4,000 members entitled to vote.

Several TDs have expressed a wish that any contest take place as early as possible and before the summer break.

But outgoing senator John Whelan, who failed to win a Dáil seat in Laois, said earlier that it would take more than a change of leader for Labour to move forward.

We changed the leader before and nothing else changed. If you do the same thing, with the same processes and the same culture, you end up with the same results.

They added: “Changing the leader is important, but it’s not going to be sufficient unless there is radical root and branch reforms of the Labour operation.”

Read: After its worst election ever, Labour’s going to try and find out what went wrong

Read: Enda warns independents: It’s a Fine Gael minority or a second election

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