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I’m not too old to take on Labour top job, insists Joan

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CONTEST: Joan Burton. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

CONTEST: Joan Burton. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

CONTEST: Joan Burton. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

JOAN Burton has rejected suggestions that she is too old for the job of Labour leader and Tanaiste.

The Social Protection Minister publicly declared as a candidate for the leadership position of the party.

Ms Burton was flanked by three TDs, two senators and a number of councillors and party members, on the plinth at Leinster House as she set out her stall for the leadership position.

But although she is close to the retirement age, Ms Burton (65) rejected out of hand that she was too old for the gig.

“I’m aware that someone slightly older than me, Hillary Clinton, is talking about running for the Presidency of the United States.

“Now, I know being President of the United States is probably a bit easier than being leader of the Labour Party, all I can say is, I’m up for it,” she joked.

gang-of-eight

Ms Burton said she had no knowledge of plans by the so-called gang-of-eight to remove Mr Gilmore as leader.

But the Dublin West TD told reporters that a number of the TDs and senators involved in the plot have since spoken to Mr Gilmore and told him they would not have lodged a vote of no confidence if they were aware of his plans to step down.

“I believe they should have gone and spoken to Eamon Gilmore,” she said. I have never known Eamon Gilmore not to respond to somebody who asked to meet him.”

Ms Burton admitted that the recovery process has been “much slower” than Labour would have liked, but insisted the party has no intention of pulling out of Government.

“You asked will we stay in government? The answer to that is yes,” Ms Burton said.

“Before the last election, Labour asked the electorate to support the Labour Party going into government. Our mandate was to go into government and recover the economy for people. We have fallen short of some of the things we had hoped to do,” she added.

The Dublin TD gave little away in terms of her demands for a renewed Programme for Government and the October Budget, but said she is committed to achieving the targets laid down by the Troika.

Ms Burton yesterday became the first party member to declare for the leadership position, made vacant by Mr Gilmore’s shock resignation on Monday afternoon.

She was joined on the plinth outside the Dail to announce her candidacy by Labour TDs Ann Phelan, Eamonn Maloney and Michael Conaghan, as well as senators Ivana Bacik and Susan O’Keeffe and a number of Labour councillors.

hnews@herald.ie


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