Labour TD calls for party clearout

Labour's Dominic Hannigan

A Labour backbencher has said the party needs to replace all five of its cabinet ministers.

Meath East TD Dominic Hannigan has said that the party's recovery cannot be left in the hands of people who have spent decades in Leinster House.

He also said he is considering whether he himself should run for the leadership of Labour, adding that the future of the party itself is at stake.

"The message that we got - not just last weekend; the first message I received was at the Meath East by-election, when people told us that we needed to change," he said.

"We got our final warning then last Friday.

"The danger is that if we don't change we are going to be annihilated at the next General Election and Labour will cease to exist as a political party in Ireland,"

Labour's disastrous showing in Friday's European and local elections - the party won no seat in Europe, and secured just over 7% of the first preference vote in local polls - led to the resignation of leader Eamon Gilmore on Monday, after several party colleagues signed a motion of no confidence in his leadership earlier in the day.

Nominations for the leadership will close on June 3, with the leader expected to be in place by July.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton is expected to declare her candidacy for the party's top job later today.

Other possible contenders include Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin and junior health minister Alex White.

However Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte says he is not involving himself in the leadership race.

And despite his loyalty to Mr Gilmore, he says he is proud of the young deputies who are speaking up.

"The future of the party are young people like Dominic Hannigan - and the people who were associated with the motion of no confidence," he said.

"I would have preferred if they hadn't gone public without talking to the leader.

"But they are the future of the party, and I've been very proud of the way they have withstood extraordinary pressure because of the economic circumstances in which the country found itself in the time we came to govenrment," he added.

Parliamentary party members are due to meet tonight, with frank exchanges expected between senior ministers and younger TDs who were planning a coup against Mr Gilmore.

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