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'We need to see a dramatic change': Alan Kelly throws down gauntlet to Brendan Howlin

It was put to Kelly that he was putting Labour leader Brendan Howlin “on notice” by calling for such rapid change.

LABOUR TD ALAN Kelly has said that the party needs 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.

According to the latest opinion poll, Labour’s support is at 6%. It lost 26 seats at the last general election, earning a 6.6% of the vote.

Its polling numbers have remained in the mid-single figures over the past 18 months, and Kelly said he would like to see the change he feels is required within the next few months.

“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”.

Around the time that Howlin was elected Labour leader last year, Kelly had made clear his own leadership ambitions on the Late Late Show.

He was also a no-show for the announcement of Howlin as the Labour leader. During his speech, the Wexford TD said this was “not a game”.

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“You said you don’t regard this as a game, do you think Alan Kelly does?” asked those at the podium.

“No I don’t,” answered Howlin. He said there were people in the room that gave their whole lives to the Labour cause, and who would defend the Labour Party to the death.

“Are you hurt Alan didn’t turn up today?” was the follow-on question. “I am hugely disappointed, but I understand his disappointment too,” Howlin said.

In a statement to on Kelly’s latest comments, a Labour spokesperson said: “Since his election as Party Leader, Brendan Howlin has repeatedly made clear that everyone in the Labour Party needs to focus on pulling in the same direction, and that if we do so, we can and will make gains again whenever the next election comes.”

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Sean Murray

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