Joan Burton ‘will not address role until government formed’

Joan Burton will not be contemplating her position as leader of the Labour party until after a new government has been formed.

Joan Burton ‘will not address role until government formed’

The Labour party has hemorrhaged elected representatives with high-profile members including ministers Kathleen Lynch, Ged Nash, Alex White, Joe Costello, and Kevin Humphreys and banking inquiry chairman Ciarán Lynch all losing their seats.

The party has plummeted from a historic high of 37 seats after the 2011. Last night, it was still battling to elect seven members — the quota needed to obtain speaking rights in the Dáil.

Ms Burton said her party would not be entering government but the Tánaiste has called on other parties to “step up to the plate” to form a government.

“These parties now need to step up to the plate in the interest of providing a stable and secure Government for the country. That will be their job,” the outgoing Tánaiste told RTÉ’s Six One news.

“We offered that to the public and the public didn’t vote for that. We have to wait and see the final outcomes — hopefully we will know that at lunchtime tomorrow.

“As I said, the priority is about forming a government and the fact is that this country needs a government.

“I do hope the process is completed in a reasonable timeframe.”

The Dáil is due to resume on March 10, when elected members will try to form a government.

But Ms Burton said: “We may come in on March 10, and nobody is elected as Taoiseach. We may be asked by the President to stay for a further time.

“Personally I hope [a government is formed] in a reasonable speedy time because the country does need stable government.”

She said she would not be thinking about her position as leader of the Labour party until after this happens.

Members of Labour’s parliamentary party are now due to meet at some stage this week — where, as a result of the election catastrophe, there will be more Labour senators than TDs.

Party rules dictate that, if returned to opposition after an election, Labour must hold a leadership election within six months. It is likely that this could happen in June.

After being elected on the seventh count in the Tipperary constituency, Labour’s deputy leader, Environment Minister Alan Kelly, said the small number of members who have now been elected would have to play a significant part in rebuilding the party.

“My thoughts are with all my colleagues who lost their seats,” he said. “They are some fantastic people, incredible people, honest, hard-working people.

“My thoughts are with them today as deputy leader.

“Tomorrow we start rebuilding this party. Every one of us who does get elected will have to share that burden and will have to start rebuilding the party, rebuilding our brand, rebuilding our message and it’s going to start tomorrow.”

Mr Kelly said that he had “no wish to start thinking about” the leadership of the party.

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