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Three TDs want to be Labour's second-in-command, one thinks Joan Burton would be a 'fantastic' leader

Junior Ministers Alan Kelly and Seán Sherlock as well as Cork TD Michael McCarthy are all in the running for the deputy leadership.

Updated 1.45pm 

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THREE TDS HAVE now confirmed they want to be the deputy leader of Labour.

Junior Minister Alan Kelly confirmed his bid to be the party’s second-in-command earlier, with fellow junior minister Seán Sherlock and Cork South-West TD Michael McCarthy also declaring that they intend to run. 

The Tipperary North TD Kelly announced his intentions to enter the race for the position of second-in-command at the portico in Leinster House this morning.

Kelly appeared to throw his support behind the leadership bid of Joan Burton saying she would make an “excellent” and “fantastic” leader although he did not outright endorse her.

The other leadership contender, who hasn’t yet declared, Alex White was described by Kelly as someone with “huge capabilities”

Support

Supporting Kelly are Carlow-Kilkenny deputy Ann Phelan, former junior minister Willie Penrose, Louth TD Ged Nash and Dublin Mid-West TD Robert Dowds. Senators Marie Maloney and John Gilroy are also supporting Kelly’s deputy leadership bid.

Housing minister Jan O’Sullivan has also thrown her support behind Kelly in a tweet this afternoon.

Phelan, who proposed Joan Burton for leader, said a Burton-Kelly partnership would be “the dream ticket”.

During his short speech, Kelly thanked Eamon Gilmore for his services to the party, stating that “history is going to remember him in a very positive way”.

Cork rivals

In a statement confirming his intentions this afternoon McCarthy, who chairs the Oireachtas Environment Committee, said: “I see my role as Deputy Party Leader as helping to restore confidence in ourselves, restore confidence in who we are as a party, and provide confidence in ensuring that our vision for Ireland is one of a better, stronger, fairer Ireland. ”

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Speaking at Leinster House this lunchtime, McCarthy declined to say how many members of the Parliamentary Labour Party are supporting his bid saying it was about the overall members.

“This is not about who brings out the most amount of people,” he insisted.

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Meanwhile Sherlock, a TD for Cork East, has re-entered the race having earlier this week ruled himself out of both the leader and deputy leadership contests.

“I want to part of the process of renewal of this party,” he said in a statement.

“To do that I feel that the position of deputy leader will allow me to assist to rebuild the organisation.

“I believe I have the energy and the capability to try this agenda with a new party leader and I look forward to the election taking place.”

Spring Tide?

Also this morning, Arthur Spring indicated that he may throw his hat in the ring for the top position, a job Brendan Howlin has already declined to fight for.

Spring was one of the ‘gang of eight’ who supported a motion of no confidence in Gilmore, forcing his early resignation last week.

The Kerry North-West Limerick TD said he would consider whether he had enough support before making a final decision.

Current frontrunners for the leadership are Social Protection Minister Burton, who announced her candidacy yesterday flanked by a number of members of the Oireachtas, as well as local councillors and other party members, and junior health minister White who is expected to confirm his intentions in the next few days.

Meath East TD Dominic Hannigan has also indicated that he might run either for the leadership or deputy leadership.

Nominations for leader and deputy leader close at noon next Tuesday before a month-long postal ballot process begins with some 5,000 party members eligible to vote. The results of both contests will be announced on 4 July.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell

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