Howlin under-pressure as councillor calls for change of leadership

Update 1.50pm: Under-pressure Labour leader Brendan Howlin is facing a growing grassroots revolt after a councillor publicly broke ranks to warn the party will sleep-walk into "oblivion" unless he is replaced by rival TD Alan Kelly, writes Fiachra O'Cionnaith.

Laois-based councillor Noel Tuohy issued the public warning on Tuesday, saying the party's 3% polling rate means it is "close to implosion" and insisting other councillors are ready to back his leadership change demand.

In a statement, Mr Tuohy said while he has respect for Mr Howlin he does not believe he has connected with voters, saying "it just has not worked".

Brendan Howlin.

Urging Mr Howlin to allow a leadership contest to take place, he said now is the time for health spokesperson Alan Kelly to take over and that Mr Kelly must "make up his mind" on what he wants to do.

"I would personally support Alan Kelly if the position of leader was vacant," Mr Tuohy said.

In my opinion, Brendan Howlin is a man of considerable acumen and of the utmost integrity who has served his country and constituency with distinction.

"However I now believe the time has come for a change as, unfortunately, Labour has failed to connect with the electorate.

"We cannot be oblivious or blind to the current standing and status of our once great and formidable party in the court of public opinion languishing now within the margin of error at 3%.

"At 3% the Labour party is close to implosion and more than two years on from the last general election there is no sign of the promised dynamic rebuild," he said.

Mr Tuohy repeated his views on RTÉ Radio's News at One programme, saying since releasing the statement other councillors "have come forward" to privately support him, adding "it's up to Alan Kelly to make up his mind to lead the party".

However, speaking on the same programme Labour senator Kevin Humphreys said despite the speculation "Brendan Howlin has the fully support of everybody in the parliamentary party", including Alan Kelly.

"There is no leadership contest. What we don't need, with respect to Noel, is another silly season story," Mr Humphreys said.

Earlier: Labour councillor calls for change of leadership in the party which is 'sleepwalking towards oblivion'

A Labour councillor is calling for a change of leadership in the party - which he says is 'sleepwalking towards oblivion'.

Noel Tuohy says while he has great respect for Brendan Howlin - he just has not clicked with the public.

The most recent poll put the party at just 3%.

The Portlaoise based Councillor says its time for change.

He said: "Even if Brendan decided or felt himself he was doing a good job, put himself before the membership, that didn't happen the last time and that caused endless problems. Seven TDs decided who was going to be leader of the party and that didn't sit well with a lot of the membership."

Brendan Howlin.

- Digital Desk

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