Howlin likely to be new Labour leader
BRENDAN Howlin is likely to be the next leader of the Labour Party.
However, the Wexford deputy said he was still in discussions with party colleagues and had not yet made up his mind.
He said he was meeting members of the parliamentiary party today (Tuesday) about his future and ulimately the future direction of Labour, which was savaged at the General Election.
'I spoke to Alan (Kelly) and other colleagues this morning and we're hoping for a consensus approach to the leadership of the party,' the former government minister told this newspaper.
Asked if he would stand against Alan Kelly in the event that he (Kelly) found a seconder, Deputy Howlin said:
'The bottom line is that in order to be on the ballot you need to be proposed and seconded by an elected deputy and I know that I would be, should I make that decision. All will be revealed by the end of the week.'
'We will (also) have a clearer strategy to rebuild the party by then.'
Deputy Howlin said 'people had different strengths and weaknesses' which would come into focus at today's parliamentary party meeting of Labour's seven deputies and five senators.
Asked whether he had been bruised by the vociferous attacks on him by the various protest movements during his tenure as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, he minimised the personal impact on him from a loud, but small small group of people.
'Not really, there were one or two incidents, but I know the decisions we made in 2011 were right for the country and I'm very proud of what we achieved,' he said, adding that the 10,500 votes he received in the General Election was proof of his support within the electorate.
Speaking after meeting colleagues at the James Connolly commemoration in Arbour Hill at the weekend, Deputy Howlin said Labour had had a very bruising election and needed to reconnect with its roots across the country.
'We will be able to rebuild a lost faster than most people expect, and I'll lay that all out to my party colleagues if I decide to stand,' he said.
'I want to do whatever task the parliamentary party wants to give me in rebuilding the party and ensuring we are back shaping the future of our country.'
Nominations for Joan Burton's successor opened on Sunday (May 15), and will close at noon on Friday (May 20).
So far, Alan Kelly is the only of the seven Labour TDs who has publicly declared his intention to run for the leadership position, but has so far failed to find a seconder.