Candidate for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

Posted by Alan Kelly on May 29, 2014 at 03:34 PM

Today I am declaring my candidacy for the position of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. I would like to thank my proposer Willie Penrose TD as well as my seconder Robert Dowds TD and the many Labour TDs, Senators, councillors and members from across the country who are supporting my bid.

Firstly, I would like to thank Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore for his dedicated service and commitment to both the Labour Party and to the Irish state, during his leadership. In 2011 on entering Government, he put the country before the party and in 2014 he has put the party before himself affording us an opportunity to renew itself. History will judge him as one of the most successful leaders of the Labour party electorally and as someone who steered this country through some of its toughest economic days.

Last weekend was a tough one for the Labour Party. The electorate gave their verdict on the performance and direction of Labour in Government and have told us in no uncertain terms, they want a new focus from the party.

In 2011, on entering Government, the priority was stability. Now in 2014, the priority must be more than that – it must be on freeing people from the stresses and strains of financial hardship brought about by the economic collapse. People both want and deserve a break from this stress. This must be the focus of the next period in Government.

The challenge is now to shape Ireland’s recovery so that it benefits people in the middle, returns people to the workforce and invests in social infrastructure that helps the most vulnerable in our society.

This last election has demonstrated that the people of Ireland are in the mood for change. It has always been my view that Irish people have a profound sense of fairness and it is the job of the Labour Party, more so than any others to tap into that.

I am running for Deputy Leader as I want to be part of and lead the renewal of the party. My strengths are in organisation and campaigning, which in my view, should among the main priorities of a Deputy Leader. Furthermore I have both European and Ministerial experience and my policy focus is on building a fairer Ireland with an emphasis on helping working families. As a thirty-eight year old, married father of two young children, I can see every day the pressures that so many families are under.

This is a campaign that must be honest – honest in both how we look at ourselves as a party and what we commit to in public. There is no magic bullet to solve our economic woes but we must digest the message the Irish people gave us last weekend and come up with an appropriate response.

The Labour Party has its roots in Tipperary. For over one hundred years it has been a force for progressive change in Irish society, always championing the interests of the workers of Ireland, both urban and rural. That is the tradition in which I grew up and that is the tradition that I now seek to renew as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

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