Labour's Duncan Smith not ruling himself out of entering race for party leadership

Labour's Duncan Smith not ruling himself out of entering race for party leadership

The race to replace Brendan Howlin as leader of the Labour Party could be even more crowded as a further TD failed to rule himself out of any contest.

TDs Alan Kelly, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Ged Nash are all understood to be interested in seeking to lead the party with its new reconfigured Dáil team of six.

And newly-elected TD Duncan Smith has now also not ruled himself out of entering a race: “There are people I respect in the party, in the local organisation that I want to discuss that with.”

Mr Smith added that it is “unlikely at this stage” that he would enter the leadership race but repeated: “I’m not ruling anything out."

Labour's executive board will meet this weekend to approve arrangements for the election of the next leader. The nomination period is then expected to remain open for at least a week. The race can then be allowed run for up to six weeks.

Any candidate who wishes to contest the position will need the nomination of two Oireachtas members, one which can include themselves; or five local party branches which amount to a minimum 10% of the Labour's membership.

Mr Howlin announced his resignation on Wednesday evening after another disappointing election for Labour. The party won six seats in the general election, down from a high of 37 back in 2011, when it last went into government with Fine Gael.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Labour's Duncan Smith not ruling himself out of entering race for party leadership

Previously a school principal at a Dublin inner city school, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin rose through the Labour ranks quickly in the 2011 coalition, where he was a junior justice minister, with responsibility for drugs.

He was a prominent figure in the abortion repeal campaign and has campaigned for free education.

He managed to retake his seat in Dublin Bay North in the recent election, after spending the last term in the Seanad. There is mixed support for Ó Ríordáin for the leadership, but he is by far one of the strongest voices for Labour and citizen's rights.

Nonetheless, he could find it difficult to secure membership support outside the capital.

Ged Nash

Labour's Duncan Smith not ruling himself out of entering race for party leadership

A strong supporter of trade unionism and workers rights, Ged Nash managed to retake his seat in Louth in the general election, after spending the last term in the Seanad.

He worked to increase the minimum wage and to strengthen workers' rights as a junior enterprise minister in the previous Fine Gael-Labour coalition.

Nash commands wide support among the party membership. His strength would be the traditional support from unions, while he could be a compromise candidate if the leadership race threatened to split the party.

The Drogheda-native also campaigned and legislated against zero-hours working contracts when in power.

Alan Kelly

Labour's Duncan Smith not ruling himself out of entering race for party leadership

Tipperary TD Alan Kelly has made no secret of his leadership ambitions in the party, but was outnumbered last time when Brendan Howlin took over.

The outspoken party health spokesman is a firebrand TD and has made a name for himself fighting for supports for cervical screening patients among others, while he also had a prominent role in the high-profile Public Accounts Committee in the last Dáil.

He was also housing minister in the previous Dáil under the then Fine Gael-Labour coalition.

He may command huge support from the party's membership, particularly from outside Dublin, but he could struggle in a leadership race to attract the backing of Labour TDs or senators.

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