Alan Kelly celebrates 'greatest honour' as Labour begin rebuild after election disaster

The new Labour leader thanked the members for putting their faith in him. File picture.
By Ciarán Sunderland

Alan Kelly has described his election as the Labour Party's 13th Leader as his "greatest honour".

The Tipperary TD thanked his leadership rival Aodhán O Ríordáin and said they would "work together to bring our Party forward".

Mr Kelly said he wanted to give "huge thanks to the members for putting their trust in me".

Mr Kelly was elected after a leadership contest disrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

There was a total valid poll of 1,915 votes in the contest and a quota of 958 votes. Alan Kelly received 1,047 votes, to Aodhán Ó Ríordáin's 868 votes.

“It is an absolute honour to be elected as Leader of the Labour Party by the members and to have received so much support from different parts of the country throughout my campaign," Mr Kelly said.

"I have been a Labour member throughout my life, involved at all levels of the organisation and this is a responsibility I take very seriously.

Mr Kelly succeeds Brendan Howlin who announced his resignation following the party's disastrous showing in February's General Election where it won just six seats.

“I also want to thank Brendan Howlin for his for his selfless commitment to the Labour Party across four decades," he added.

"He has been a pillar of strength to the Party and the country through his public service and I know he will continue to serve the country in the years ahead.

Conceding defeat last night, Aodhán O Riordáin said: “I wholeheartedly congratulate my friend and colleague Alan Kelly, who now takes on the responsibility of leading our Party.

"The values of economic justice, universal rights, equality, solidarity, compassion, inclusiveness and internationalism are safe in Alan’s hands.

"I want to especially congratulate his family who I know will rightly share in this proud day."

It is expected Mr Kelly will come under pressure to allow the party to be involved in Government formation talks next week, despite Mr Howlin ruling that out in the immediate aftermath of the General Election.

The sorting and counting of approximately 1,900 postal ballots began just after 2pm yesterday.

Senior counsel Conor Power was carrying out the count in a room at the offices of auditing firm Mazars.

Due to Coronavirus restrictions, a live video link has been made available to the campaign teams of the two candidates to watch the count proceed as public access was not possible.

This is not the first time Mr Kelly had sought to be leader. Mr Kelly's election comes four years after he failed to gain a nomination from any of his fellow TDs to contest for the Labour leadership against Mr Howlin.

Mr Kelly, a former deputy leader of the party, served as Minister for Housing between 2014 and 2016 and was a junior transport minister for three years before that. He returned to Leinster House in 2011 from Europe where he had served as an MEP from 2008.

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