Thursday, September 06, 2007
Today is a historic day for the Labour Party as we select our tenth leader. At what I consider is a relatively young age, I'm now looking forward to meeting my fourth party leader in person when he attends the members hustings for the South East in Kilkenny on Tuesday week, the 18th. of September. For what it's worth I believe that Pat Rabbitte stepped down too early, a view I have related directly to him. This is the second such occasion, with Ruairi Quinn having left too early also in my view. That said, both men had very good reasons for doing so, and it's now up to us to get on with the task of rebuilding our party back to where we were in 1992, and to our ultimate aim which is to become the main opposition party in Ireland. In that context I think we have chosen the best leader available to us, and I now believe we should chose Jan O' Sullivan as the best positioned person to carry out the Deputy Leader's job.
I warmly welcome the election of Deputy Eamon Gilmore as the tenth leader of the Labour Party. I have been a long-time friend of Eamon, who like myself, is a former national student leader. His work as a Junior Minister in the last Government in which we were involved was hugely admired, but it has been as our spokesperson on local Government and the Environment that he has made a huge impact, articulating a vision for the development of local Government and arguing for core Labour values like the necessity for building badly needed social housing for the 100,000 plus people in need of a roof over their heads.
Eamon’s ambition for the party has already been clearly outlined, and I welcome his commitment to win at least thirty seats in the next General election. I believe that regaining a Labour seat in Carlow/Kilkenny must be a key target in this strategy, and I intend to work strongly with our new leader to ensure this happens.
My decision to support Jan O’ Sullivan, and to call on party members in the constituency to support her is based on a strong belief that we need to have a balanced representation in the party leadership. It is crucial that the party continues to be seen as one for all the people of Ireland, urban and rural.
Jan comes from the proud Kemmy tradition of Limerick socialism, and has been an ardent defender of the values of equality, fairness and opportunity for all which summed Kemmy up. She has been a superb party spokesperson on education, my own professional field, and has formulated a forward-looking position on education, committing Labour to a substantial investment in education at all levels, particularly in reducing class sizes in our primary schools, a position the Government has singularly failed to introduce.
While I have great regard for Joan Burton TD, who has been a superb spokesperson on finance, and a hard-working TD, I believe Jan has the necessary conviction and commitment to be the best available support to Eamon as our new leader.