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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 17 February, 2020

Is today the day Joan Burton paves the way for someone else to lead Labour?

The future leadership of the party will be discussed at the party’s parliamentary meeting.

Alan Kelly has previously said that he would be happy to lead the party.
Alan Kelly has previously said that he would be happy to lead the party.
Image: Sasko Lazarov

WITH LABOUR NOW officially out of government and its ministers no longer holding seals of office (on an acting basis or otherwise), the issue of the leadership has become a live one.

Labour’s rules state that if the party doesn’t enter government after an election then the leadership comes up for review.

Now that this is a reality and independents have taken Labour’s place at Fine Gael’s side, Joan Burton’s future becomes a pressing question.

The Labour leader kept her seat as a TD for Dublin West meaning she’s eligible to stay on (only Labour TDs can lead the party), but the indications are that she will stand aside.

Speaking to Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ at the weekend, Burton didn’t directly say she was stepping down but sounded like someone who didn’t feel like leadership was her priority anymore.

“I’m very happy to do whatever I can to help the Labour party in its future,” she said, adding that she wants to be “very active in this new Dáil and new politics”.

The Labour parliamentary party is due to meet today and Burton said of the meeting that she doesn’t think the conversation will be specifically about her but rather “the best leadership option for the party”.

In terms of who is in the frame to replace Burton, deputy leader Alan Kelly and former junior minister Seán Sherlock are seen as the favourites, both by the bookies and party insiders alike.

Kelly has already been the most vocal Labour voice in opposition to the new government in its early days. He’s already spoken strongly on issues such as water charges, climate change and the breakup of his previous Department of Environment.

While his abrasive style had been seen as a possible liability during the election campaign, Kelly has been attempting to row back on this perception.

Read: Joan Burton says Fianna Fáil ‘has its foot on Enda Kenny’s neck’ >

Read: Unbearable pressure: How water drowned out everything >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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