Labour have yet to decide if they will abstain or support a Fine Gael minority government, as internal debate continues in the party on whether Joan Burton should remain on as leader.

Party TDs and senators will today meet and discuss the next stepsamid suggestions that Tánaiste and leader Joan Burton may put her name forward for the leadership contest.

But there are mixed thoughts in the party on whether it should go into opposition completely or possibly align itself in some form, through votes, with a minority government led by Fine Gael.

Candidates competing for places in the Seanad elections also are frustrated at the lack of clarity around the direction the party is going and are complaining that it is distracting from their campaigns.

A meeting of Labour’s parliamentary party will take place today, which is expected to the address the ongoing issue of whether the party abstains in the next vote for Taoiseach and, furthermore, whether the party decides to back issues or policies proposed by the next government.

One Labour figure yesterday said that a “price” should be extracted from Fine Gael, if Labour are asked to abstain in the next vote for Taoiseach to facilitate support for Enda Kenny.

Labour to decide if they will support Fine Gael minority government

“A price should be extracted for abstaining, like guaranteeing that €4bn remains in social housing funding, rather than it being broken off and given to fringe groups, like Independents.”

Party sources though say no decision on which way Labour would vote on minority government matters will be decided until formation talks come to an end.

“It’s premature to be talking about this, let’s see how the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil talks play out,” argued one informed source.

Outgoing senator Aideen Hayden said the party could “no longer remain outside the debate” about who would be in government and “needed to take responsibility in the national interests”.

Meanwhile, debate internally continues over who should lead Labour after its general election result.

Acting ministers Brendan Howlin, Alan Kelly and Tánaiste Joan Burton are the three names being discussed.

Alan Kelly
Alan Kelly

However, suggestions earlier this week that Ms Burton may put her name forward for re-election were declared “doubtful” last night.

Ms Burton’s entry would only be to ensure a contest takes place and the membership then have a vote, rather than allowing another candidate take over the party unchallenged. “It would be so there is no coronation or agreed candidate. She wants a contest,” said a source.

Debate over who should be Labour leader though is frustrating party candidates seeking support in the Seanad elections.

A number of candidates yesterday said this was “not the time or the place” for the leadership to be debated as attempts are made to get people into the Seanad.

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