Republic of Ireland news

Ivana Bacik confirms bid to become Labour leader

Ivana Bacik is expected to be the sole candidate in the race to lead the party, which has struggled in the polls in recent years. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire
Dominic McGrath, PA

Ivana Bacik has confirmed that she is putting her name forward to lead the Labour Party in the Republic.

The Labour TD, elected to the Dáil last summer in a by-election after more than a decade as a senator, said she will be seeking nominations to run for Labour leader following the sudden resignation of Alan Kelly last week.

Her fellow TDs Duncan Smith and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, seen as possible contenders, have already ruled themselves out of any contest.

In a letter sent to party councillors, seen by the PA news agency, Ms Bacik says: “I write to you following the meeting of the executive board on Saturday to agree the process for electing a new leader of our party.

“Candidates for leader may be nominated by constituency councils and/or by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

“Prior to making any public statement, I would like to take the opportunity this morning to let you and all Labour councillors know that I intend to seek nomination from constituency councils to run for that election.

“I discussed this issue with my own constituency members in Dublin Bay South last Thursday evening, and was really honoured to receive their overwhelming endorsement.

“Over the coming days, I hope to speak with many more councillors, area representatives and party members to hear your views about the future direction of the party and seek support for my candidacy.”

Ms Bacik is expected to be the sole candidate in the race to lead the party, which has struggled in the polls in recent years.

Those inside the party, following the resignation of Mr Kelly, admitted that the party was still struggling with the legacy of its time in the Fine Gael-led coalition Government, which oversaw harsh austerity measures in the aftermath of the crash.

Ms Bacik, elected as a TD for Dublin Bay South, said that the by-election was won by a “clear and constructive political message of seeking radical change for social and economic equality”.

“These are socialist and social democratic values that have been at the centre of my political life, from the days when I began campaigning for a woman’s right to choose, as a student in Trinity College, to last week when I was proud to chair the first public meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality.

“I believe that these values, Labour’s values, must shape the future of our country and our continent over the next decade – and I hope to play my part, along with you, in applying those values to change Irish society.

“Over the coming weeks I hope to meet with constituency organisations, and to speak with councillors, area reps and members to outline my vision, and to hear your ideas on how a united and re-energised Labour Party can again become the leading centre-left force in Irish politics.”

In her letter, Ms Bacik also paid tribute to Mr Kelly.

“All Alan’s adult life he has committed himself to working for the Labour party.”

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