Sunday 17 December 2017

Howlin has no interest in Ceann Comhairle role

By Esther Hayden

Minister Brendan Howlin.
Minister Brendan Howlin.

Labour's Brendan Howlin has ruled himself out of contention for the position of Ceann Comhairle.

Minister Howlin said that he had 'made it clear that I am not a candidate for the role of Ceann Comhairle. We have just seven seats in the Dail and I think all are required in the Dail.'

He said that the Labour Party won't be putting forward a candidate for the position for that reason.

As the dust settles after the general election Brendan said it had been a very bad election for the Labour Party but he refused to be drawn on any leadership challenge.

'Clearly we have to reflect carefully on the election. It was an extraordinary result for us. Obviously it was good here in Wexford but unfortunately that was not replicated across the country.

'We have to reconnect without our base and our membership. We paid a heavy price for going into Government and doing right for the country. We have to reflect on matters now but I am confident that we can rebuild a vibrant Labour Party representing the interests of the working people.

'My own role in this is yet to be determined', he said.

After the election Joan Burton said that her leadership was 'a matter for the members'. The Labour Party parliamentary party will meet today (Tuesday) but it is not known if there will be any discussion on Burton's leadership.

However if she did resign her leadership of the party it is highly likely that all eyes will look to Brendan for guidance and leadership. Not only is he a seasoned politician but given his popularity in the face of such a disastrous showing nationwide for the party he is seen by many as the obvious choice.

However whether he would want such a thankless and unrewarding role within the party is debatable. Also he would likely face competition for any leadership with Tipp's Alan Kelly. It has long been suspected that Kelly had his eye on Burton's role with him boldly declaring recently that he was his 'own boss' before pulling in his horns after being slapped down by Burton who said she was 'absolutely his boss'.

For Brendan taking on the mantle of party leadership might be more hassle than it's worth particularly given the state of the party and the disillusionment among members.

If the Labour Party is to emerge like a Phoenix from the ashes following what has been their worst election since the 1930s a root and branch examination of the party will be needed.

Brendan said that he expects it to take several weeks for a new Government to be formed.

'Unfortunately being in Government making decision is a dangerous place to be. We paid the price for that. Now you see all the parties, even the big ones like Fianna Fail and Fine Gael avoiding Government. It's is difficult to be in Government and I think we have some very troubled waters ahead of us, in terms of the British referendum and borders being closed across Europe for the first time in 50 years.

'It's a very troubled horizon and we need a strong stable Government.' He said that no deal on a new Government would be brokered before Thursday when the Dail resumes and wryly said 'I don't even know if it will be sorted this month.'

Wexford People

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