Labour TD Alan Kelly: I won’t call on leader to resign

Labour TD Alan Kelly has said it would be inappropriate to call on his party leader, Brendan Howlin, to resign, despite appearing to do so on radio last month.

Mr Kelly said he did not directly call for Mr Howlin to resign at the party’s think-in in Drogheda.

The party has endured a turbulent summer during which more than a dozen councillors joined forces calling on Mr Howlin to stand aside.

However, he did stop short of saying he would be happy to see Mr Howlin lead the party into the next election.

Last month, on his local radio station, Mr Kelly expressed a clear desire for a change, saying he backed up criticisms made of Mr Howlin by some party councillors.

In Drogheda, speaking to reporters, Mr Kelly rowed back somewhat on critical comments he made of Mr Howlin in a TippFM interview.

Mr Howlin, at the time, rejected calls to meet with councillors who were seeking his resignation, saying he would deal with them at this think-in.

The party held a closed session during which Mr Howlin’s leadership was discussed.

Mr Kelly said: “The meeting was to facilitate the councillors who made a request for the meeting.

Asked had he called for Mr Howlin to resign face to face, Mr Kelly said: “No I haven’t, of course I haven’t.”

Asked would he do so over the course of the two-day think-in, Mr Kelly replied: “Of course I won’t”.

“Those issues are a matter for internal discussions, but I would never do anything like that. I don’t think that is an appropriate way to behave in the first place,” he said.

What I said then and what I am saying now is, as a party, we need to refocus ourselves as regards to the direction of the party, back to the issues of working people.

“I think the most important part of the discussion is how we are going to do that, to get better traction with the public. Who is leading the party is secondary to making sure the party is going in the right direction.”

Mr Kelly has stood isolated from his parliamentary party colleagues, all of whom have backed Mr Howlin to remain on as leader.

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