herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Labour to back Enda for Taoiseach despite unease in party

Labour leader Joan Burton Photo: Tom Burke
Labour leader Joan Burton Photo: Tom Burke

Labour Party leader Joan Burton will insist her surviving seven TDs vote for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach on Thursday despite growing unrest over the move.

A number of Labour TDs and senators, along with some in the wider membership of the party, are understood to believe they should abstain from voting on Thursday. 

A source said there is a sense that Labour would be better to “end the charade”, as voters have not given them a mandate to re-elect Mr Kenny as Taoiseach.

However, Ms Burton has argued that she gave a commitment to support his reappointment throughout the General Election campaign.

She believes that Labour’s TDs should honour that pact – but that all ties to Fine Gael would be severed following this week’s vote.

Her spokesman told the Herald it is “true to say there is some unease” in the party ahead of the Dail resumption.  

However, he said they went to the electorate with an offer that was based strongly around their manifesto, but also on the fact they wanted to return the Fine Gael-Labour coalition.

He said they view Thursday’s vote in that context, “and that vote alone”.

“Once that vote is done, that would be it,” he said, indicating that they might not support Mr Kenny for Taoiseach if there are subsequent votes in the coming weeks. 

Although Mr Kenny will not have the numbers needed to be re-elected on Thursday, the support of Labour’s TD will be vital in order to keep him ahead of Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.

If Mr Kenny were to be beaten by Mr Martin, it would almost certainly prompt other ministers to move against him.

Fine Gael now has 50 TDs compared with Fianna Fail’s 44, and both parties are trying to woo support from independents and others.

By adding Labour’s seven TDs to his own 50, Mr Kenny is likely to be able to stay comfortably in front in the initial vote. Sinn Fein, which has 23 TDs in the new Dail, is expected to nominate Gerry Adams. Mary Lou McDonald said yesterday there is no question over his leadership.

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