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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Burton 'set to step down as Labour leader after government formed'

Labour leader Joan Burton
Labour leader Joan Burton

Joan Burton is set to announce plans to step down as Labour leader while staying on as a TD once a new government is formed, it is believed.

The acting Tanaiste was said to have been taken aback at the scale of anger towards her at the party's election post-mortem meeting in Dublin earlier this week.

A change of leadership in the Labour Party is expected in the coming months, with sources insisting that Ms Burton's position was no longer tenable.

Last night, a senior source said he believes Ms Burton will announce her decision to quit as Labour leader after a government is formed.

Under Labour's constitution, the party must hold a leadership contest within six months of an election if the party opts to go into opposition.

As this outcome appears inevitable, delegates will vote in a leadership contest by August at the latest.

The party was left reeling following the election, falling from 33 Dail seats to just seven.

Yesterday, Labour parliamentary party chairman Willie Penrose said he believes the Dublin West TD would act in the best interests of the party.

"She will listen carefully and reflect on the views of the party," he said.

Impact

"At the end of the day we suffered the impact of policies on the kitchen table. People are concerned about having enough money to pay bills," he said of the party's disastrous election result.

Meanwhile, the leaders of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael had their first phone conversation on the formation of a government since the election.

Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin called acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny to speak about the political stalemate as both parties continue to seek support from Independents.

A row later erupted over which leader had seized the initiative.

Mr Kenny later tried to call Mr Martin back to set a meeting for this afternoon, but Mr Martin didn't answer the call - prompting Mr Kenny to put the offer in a text message.

Before he replied to the text, Mr Martin announced to reporters his intentions to win Wednesday's Dail vote on who should be Taoiseach, and claimed he was the person who instigated the communication with Mr Kenny.

This prompted Fine Gael sources to accuse Mr Martin of "playing games". Fianna Fail sources hit back, labelling the criticism as "nonsense".

Mr Martin later replied to Mr Kenny's text to say the pair should meet after next Wednesday's vote.

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