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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

Joan Burton is resigning as Labour leader

She made the announcement today at the RHA Gallery in Dublin.

JOAN BURTON HAS resigned as the leader of the Labour party.

Following a parliamentary party meeting in Leinster House this afternoon, the Dublin West TD confirmed she was stepping down after two years in the leadership role.

She said that she will step down once a new leader has been elected.

“Like most of the party, I entered government with both hope and fear in my heart – hope that with unyielding effort and sustained policy implementation, we could turn things around, fear that the situation had already deteriorated to a point of no return,” Burton said today.

She said she was “immensely proud” of what the party had achieved in government, but also acutely conscious that for many people, “we couldn’t deliver quickly enough, and that the recovery still hasn’t been felt in all homes”.

The results of the election had been “disappointing”, she commented, as the party lost many “able politicians”.

We didn’t do everything right, but I believe we left Ireland a better place than we found it – the true test for any party in government.


She told the packed room at the RHA Gallery in Dublin today that the decision to step down was a “difficult one”.

Burton said she would have liked more time in government to make improvements.

It will remain the party’s objective in this Dáil to match business recovery with social progress, she told reporters.

Sean Sherlock described it as a “sad day”, adding that Burton had made a valuable contribution to the party as leader.

‘Rescuing the economy’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also paid tribute to his former government colleague, stating she and her ministerial colleagues “played a major role in rescuing the Irish economy, which was on the bring of collapse” back in 2011.

Many of the tough decisions that had to be taken to turn the country around were unpopular and politically difficult, but Joan Burton and her colleagues were steadfast in doing what was right for the country.

“In her role as minister, Joan Burton spearheaded many of the welfare reforms that helped the last government to surpass our job creation targets to the point where the unemployment rate has been reduced from over 15% to 8.4%,” he added.

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The new boss

Labour’s rules state that if the party doesn’t enter government after an election, then the leadership comes up for review. Due to government formation finally becoming a reality last week, the party’s spotlight moved to focus on Burton’s future.

Her deputy Alan Kelly becomes caretaker leader until an election for the top position is held. The Tipperary TD is a frontrunner, and he said today he would be making his intentions clear once the process of election is announced.

Sean Sherlock and Brendan Howlin are also in the leadership mix. The voting process could take up to six weeks.

- With reporting by Christina Finn and Michelle Hennessy.

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