Labour TD Alan Kelly has ruled out challenging Brendan Howlin for the party’s leadership in the immediate future, but said he does expect to see progress in the polls in the next six months.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner amid fresh claims he could seek to remove Mr Howlin in the coming weeks or months due to fears the party is stagnating in the polls, Mr Kelly said there is no chance of this happening.
In November, a number of councillors said they would back a leadership bid from the Tipperary TD.
However, Mr Kelly said he believes he is working well with Mr Howlin and has no plans to remove him from power.
“I wanted to lead Labour ever since I was a young man. I think it’s good to have ambition, I respect people who have it. But I think the party’s turned a corner.
“Brendan and I have been working very closely on the Garda emails and other issues. I think Brendan is one of the most articulate speakers of his generation, and he has been very helpful on the Garda issue in recent months.”
Mr Kelly said that “for me, it’s never been just about my own professional personal ambition”, and that “I’m not the kind of person” who would attempt to oust a colleague.
He said he “expects improvements in the polls in the first or second quarter of the year”, a timescale suggesting the situation may change if there is no boost in Labour support by the summer.
Meanwhile, Mr Kelly said Labour must double its number of TDs before it even considers trying to re-enter government.
He said he wants to become justice minister “to clean up the department” as the job is “suited to the person I am”.
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