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Labour's Alan Kelly
Labour's Alan Kelly
Image: Sam Boal

Alan Kelly is no longer gunning for Howlin's job as leader of the Labour Party

Six months ago, the Tipperary TD put his party leader on notice.
May 5th 2018, 8:46 AM 12,033 39

IT’S ALMOST SIX months to the day since Labour’s Alan Kelly put his party leader Brendan Howlin “on notice”.

In November 2017, he said his party needed to see a “dramatic change” in how its support base responds to the party.

Speaking on TV3′s The Sunday Show with Sarah McInerney, the Tipperary TD said that while he supported Labour leader Brendan Howlin, change was urgently needed.

He said: “[Brendan Howlin] has my support.

However, let me say this very clearly. We need to see a dramatic change in how our support base is responding to us.

“We’re not two years from the last general election,” he said.

“We would need to see a dramatic change in support for the Labour party. I would say in less than six months.”

Bringing the interview to a close, McInerney suggested that Kelly was putting Brendan Howlin “on notice”.

So, does Kelly still have his sights set on being Labour leader?

Kelly told TheJournal.ie this week that he is now happy to support Brendan Howlin in his leadership into the next election.

In the run up to Christmas, the country was brought to the brink of a general election over the controversy of what the then-Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald knew about the alleged smear campaign against Garda whistleblower, Maurice McCabe.

This prompted the Labour Party to get election-ready, said Kelly.

Very soon after that there was nearly a general election, which the Labour party and through my own work at the time, we brought out the issues… as a consequence of that myself and Brendan [Howlin] obviously had a full discussion and given the fact we were going into an election, I said I would support him and I will honour that commitment, because I gave it at the time when we all were on the brink of an election.

Kelly is optimistic about his party’s future in the next election, whenever that is.

The latest poll, conducted by Red C and published by the Sunday Business Post, puts the Labour Party on 6% support – no change from its previous poll.

“I think the way our party has stood up on many serious issues is going to change the future of our party and will reflect better on our party. I expect our poll numbers and the future of our party, I expect will be a lot rosier now than it was six months ago,” said Kelly.

The Tipperary TD added that his questioning of current Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and his predecessor Frances Fitzgerald, as well as a number of parliamentary questions he submitted brought the issues in the Justice Department to light.

With the threat of a general election hanging over them last year, Kelly said it would have been important to enter a campaign as a “united Labour Party and that’s the way we are going to continue”.

Kelly has never been one to shy away from his ambitions to be leader.

Despite getting elected in 2016, Kelly didn’t enjoy the same support from his depleted cohort of Leinster House colleagues.

Failing to get any of his fellow party members to second him for leader of the Labour party, Brendan Howlin was elected. At the announcement in Dublin’s Royal College of Physicians, there was one notable absence in the room. Alan Kelly.

So why was he a no-show? Was he simply in a huff?

“I didn’t think it was my role that day being honest with you,” Kelly told TheJournal.ie in an interview.

But the Tipperary TD didn’t blink when he said the leadership is in his future.

There’s nothing wrong with ambition. I think actually Irish people admire self-confidence and ambition but I think that some people try to portray in a way that is begrudgery. I think begrudgery often comes from those who maybe are afraid of going to achieve what they want to achieve or perhaps haven’t put their head above the parapet.

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Christina Finn

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