Firm favorite Ivana Bacik to lead Labor after Alan Kelly’s shock exit

Dublin Bay South TD Ivana Bacik is tipped as the heavy favorite to become the next leader of the Labor Party after Alan Kelly’s shock resignation from his post on Wednesday.

Mr Kelly said it had been “the best political day of my life” when he became leader and was looking forward to leading the party to a general election.

He expressed his surprise on learning that he had lost the confidence of his colleagues in the parliamentary party on Tuesday. He acknowledged there had been concerns about Labor’s polling performance and that the move followed “a number of candid discussions over the past few weeks”.

Sources said on Wednesday that recent meetings of the Parliamentary Labor Party have discussed issues of culture and dissatisfaction with a recent appointment to a behind-the-scenes post in the party.

Mr Kelly’s nearly two-year stint in charge of the party was marked by the culmination of Ms Bacik’s success in the Dublin Bay South by-election. The party also secured the election of its Seanad candidates, but it failed to elicit a renewal of Labour‘s standing in the polls.

Get emotional

Several party sources said Ms Bacik was likely to be the next leader, with one saying she was the ‘sole candidate’. Mr Kelly said a new leader would take the reins shortly and would remain in the interim.

Getting emotional at times as he spoke out through his family and colleagues, Mr Kelly said the party had not gotten the ‘bounce back’ he had been hoping for in the past two years and he felt limited in his ability to lead during the pandemic. .

“It is also a reality that it had been difficult for us, as a party, very associated with the 2011-2016 mandate and for those of us involved in this government, to move on, and I think that ‘Now is the time for us to do it,’ he said.

He promised to support the new leader and said that although he was saddened by the decision, “I have to respect it”. Flanked by the full parliamentary Labor party, he said he had “no interest in spiteful or divisive debate”.

“When a new leader is elected in a few weeks, I guarantee that I will do everything possible to support this leader, and the party [as] I’ve done it all my life,” he said. “I will always support the Labor Party.”

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