Ó Riordain, Kelly and Nash among the early frontrunners as Brendan Howlin resigns as Labour leader

In a move that was not unexpected, Mr Howlin said that he would be instigating a leadership contest with immediate effect.

Ó Riordain, Kelly and Nash among the early frontrunners as Brendan Howlin resigns as Labour leader

Brendan Howlin has stepped down as leader of the Labour Party.

In a move that was not unexpected, Mr Howlin said that he would be instigating a leadership contest with immediate effect.

The frontrunners in that contest are expected to be TDs Aodhan Ó Riordain, Alan Kelly and Ged Nash.

Sean Sherlock will note be putting his name forward.

"I wish Brendan well. He is a person of great integrity and a true servant of the people. I will not be putting my name forward at this time. I want to focus on rebuilding the party and serving the people of Cork East," he said.

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin in the wake of a meeting of the Labour parliamentary party, Wexford TD Mr Howlin said that it was the “consensus” of the party that Labour should not form part of the next Government having failed to attain a mandate.

“It is my view that we should put in train a leadership election,” Mr Howlin said, adding that he would be making that recommendation to central council and the party executive.

He added that his name would not be going forward in that contest.

Asked whether or not he would be standing for the role of ceann comhairle, Mr Howlin replied “no, I am not interested, but thank you for the offer”.

He said that he would continue to represent the party in discussions regarding the formation of the next Government, starting with pending meetings with the Social Democrats and the Green Party in the coming hours and days.

Labour representatives had made no secret of their desire to double their seat count to 14 in the election. In the end their TD count dropped by one to just six for the next Dáil term.

Mr Howlin said that he felt the party’s messaging had been “spot on” and that although Labour had not been included in the surge to the left it had done “extraordinarily well” to secure those six seats given “the pressure” the party had been under, adding that “local circumstances” had contributed to it missing out in other battlegrounds.

I think politics is fundamentally about changing your society and your country for the good.

"I’m very proud that the Labour Party has done that and will continue to do that into the future,” he said.

Throughout the campaign Mr Howlin had been keen to play up the pragmatic nature of Labour’s manifesto, a consequence of “lessons learned” from its past chastening experiences at the hands of the electorate.

He said, with regard to the Sinn Féin surge, that “that tide goes out as well”.

“I’ve no doubt that a wave of that size will go out. Whether that is completely or partially depends upon the timing and on whether or not Sinn Fein is in Government,” he said.

He clarified that he had spoken to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin on Sunday, on the first day of the count, and had discussed their respective analyses of the election result, but wouldn’t be drawn on the specifics of the conversation.

Labour had not decided how it would vote on any election for Taoiseach, but would be taking note of “what was in offer”, Mr Howlin said, adding that he was feeling “almost liberated already” following his announcement.

The party had lost out in the election campaign, not because of a failure to engage in so-called auction politics, but because all parties had been in discussion regarding the need for change which had “undermined the clarity of our position”, he said.

People want a party that will be honest and clear in what it will do and not promise grandiose things that can not be done.

"We made promises in the past that we couldn’t deliver in Government and I was determined that we wouldn’t make, and won’t make, that mistake again,” he added.

“For those who have made those promises, some of whom never envisaged having to deliver on them, they might find their explanations in the future a little more challenging.”

Earlier: 'It has been an honour': Brendan Howlin resigns as Labour leader

Brendan Howlin has confirmed he has stepped down as leader of the Labour party.

Speaking following a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, he said he was proud of his record in office but that with just six Dail seats, the party had no mandate to enter government.

It won 4.4% of the vote at the weekend, down two points from its 2016 performance.

Addressing reporters, Mr Howlin said Labour will not formally be part of the next government, but will be constructive from opposition benches.

“It has been an honour to lead the Labour Party but now is the right time to pass on the baton to a new generation. It has been undoubtedly a difficult election for us but I believe we have succeeded in sowing the seeds for future growth," he said.

“I would like to thank all of my colleagues for their support over the last four years, and to thank the party’s members and staff who have put in a huge effort in the recent election as they do between elections.

“I will continue to represent the people of my beloved Wexford to the best of my ability and I thank them wholeheartedly for their continued support.

Labour have said that their executive board will meet on Saturday to approve the arrangements for the election of a new leader.

More to follow...

- Additional reporting by Daniel McConnell and Joel Slattery

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