Labour Party mulls ‘consensus’ candidate for leadership

A contest for the leadership of the Labour Party is expected to be parked and a “consensus” candidate may be agreed to unite the party as it seeks to recover from a disastrous general election.

Party sources are playing down the likelihood of a battle between potential leaders as this could take up to 45 days and leave the party “talking among itself” in the wilderness.

Brendan Howlin yesterday strongly hinted that he may put himself forward for the position, following the resignation of outgoing Tánaiste Joan Burton as leader of the party this week.

Mr Howlin says he will make a decision after the weekend. He said he had spoken to “hundreds of party activists” as well as candidates who had run in the election.

His comments come after speculation that deputy leader Alan Kelly and former junior foreign affairs minister Sean Sherlock also both want the position.

Mr Kelly has strongly signalled before that he would like to lead the party and is expected to publically state his position on The Late Late Show tomorrow night.

However, Labour figures are playing down the likelihood of a full-blown battle for the position as this would leave Labour isolated, and could split the party.

A senior party source said: “The three will talk over the weekend. There’s a sense there won’t be a contest. We would be 45 days off the pitch, talking to ourselves for 45 days while the rest of Dáil and country continues.”

While there was much attention on Labour’s leader and deputy leader contests in 2014, this was when the party had a stronger parliamentary presence and was also in government.

Labour figures believe the time for a contest has passed, now that a government has been formed, the Dáil has returned and that parties are in place and ready for coming political term.

Meanwhile, former education minister Jan O’Sullivan also said she was considering putting her name forward for the leadership.


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