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Republic's Labour Party in ‘fight for survival' in wake of Alan Kelly's resignation

Former Irish Labour Party leader Alan Kelly speaking to the media outside Leinster House, Dublin, after resigning last night. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire 
Cate McCurry, PA

The Labour Party in the Republic is in a “fight for survival” in the wake of Alan Kelly’s resignation as leader, a senator has said.

Labour senator Marie Sherlock said it has been a sad number of days but that leadership is not something to hold on to “at all costs”.

Mr Kelly made the shock announcement last night that he will step down as leader after less than two years.

Surrounded by party colleagues at Leinster House, Mr Kelly acknowledged the party has not made progress in the opinion polls under his leadership.

Ms Sherlock tipped party TDs Ivana Bacik and Duncan Smith as potential contenders to replace Mr Kelly.

She said she has worked closely with Mr Kelly for the past two years.

“I know that he has given everything to being the leader of the Labour Party and of course this is a very sad number of days for the party, for him and for his family and supporters,” the senator told Morning Ireland.

“But leadership in the Labour Party is not something to be held on to at all costs.

“We’ve known for some time now that the Labour Party is in a fight for its very survival. While we in the party and our councillors across the country are working extremely hard, the reality is that we’re finding it very hard to cut through. Our polling numbers have stagnated.

“Labour’s time in government is a legacy that continues to hang over.

“So the reality now for the party is that we need a generational change, we need a fresh start. Radical changes are to be made and that has to start at the top of the party.”

She added that Mr Kelly has shown leadership in the last number of days and years and he has listened to parliamentary colleagues.

She said he has taken on board the changes that need to be made if the party is to “survive and thrive”.

“We need to send a message to the electorate that the party is making radical changes,” Ms Sherlock added.

She said they will start a process of appointing a new leader in the coming days.

Mr Kelly said he would remain as leader until his successor is elected.

“We’re crystal clear that if we’re to survive and thrive, then then we do need to make changes,” he said yesterday.

“I was advised by my parliamentary colleagues on Tuesday morning that they had lost collective confidence in my leadership.

“This was a surprise to me but I accept the decision.

“We had a number of frank discussions in recent weeks.

“I have to acknowledge that we haven’t been able as a party to move on in the opinion polls and I have deep regret about that.”

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