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New Labour leader Ivana Bacik (file photo) Leah Farrell/

Ivana Bacik confirmed as new leader of the Labour Party

“I sincerely hope that I can repay the trust you have placed in me.”

LAST UPDATE | 24 Mar 2022

THE NEWEST LABOUR TD, Ivana Bacik, has been confirmed as the new leader of the Labour Party following the resignation of Alan Kelly.

Bacik, who was elected in the Dublin Bay South by-election in July 2021, was the only contender for the party leadership after potential candidates Duncan Smith and Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin ruled themselves out.

There was shock after Kelly – who took over the party in April 2020 – resigned at the beginning of March after Labour TDs “lost collective confidence” in him.

Bacik was confirmed as the party’s 14th leader shortly after midday, a few minutes after nominations officially closed.

Under Labour Party rules, only TDs can contest the party’s leadership and if only one candidate is put forward, they are automatically elected as leader.

Bacik sought nominations from Labour constituency chairs and councillors for the leadership, having officially announced her candidacy on 7 March.

Bacik’s candidacy was proposed by Kelly and seconded by the party’s five other five TDs and four senators. She was also endorsed by 29 of Labour’s 39 constituency councils.

‘Building a better future’

Speaking in Dublin this afternoon, Bacik said: “I am honoured, excited and, I confess, quite overwhelmed.”

She said she was grateful for the support of party members and paid tribute to her predecessor Kelly, calling him her “friend and comrade”.

“I know the ambition you have for our future and for how our party can shape our future for the better,” she told a press conference in Ringsend.

“I sincerely hope that I can repay the trust you have placed in me.”

In her speech, she also referenced John and Pat Hume, speaking about the impotence of a state that “works for the unity of the people of Ireland.”

“I didn’t become a political activist because I had all the answers – and I still don’t. For me, politics is about building a better future.

“It’s not contrived shouting matches or tearing people apart to score a political point.”

Bacik also said we “are entering an era of serious politics”, adding: “We have big problems to solve, they are global.”

She called for an immediate mini-budget “to address the cost-of-living crisis”.

“Ireland needs a pay rise. We in Labour know that an increase in take-home pay is the best way to help working people and families keep up with rising costs,” she said.

In the 2021 by-election, Bacik beat out Fine Gael councillor James Geoghegan and Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan for the seat vacated by former Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.

Kelly’s resignation

When he announced his resignation on 2 March, Kelly said that the party had struggled to push forward Labour policies due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I did find it difficult to get momentum, I genuinely found it quite difficult. It was a strange time for the country. I think we supported the government of the day in a national crisis, we didn’t do populism,” he said.

He added that Labour is still “very much associated” with the coalition with Fine Gael from 2011 to 2016 and it was very difficult for “those of us who were involved in that government to move on”. 

“I have to acknowledge that we haven’t been able to move on as a party in the opinion polls, and I have a deep regret about that.”

With reporting from Press Association and Órla Ryan

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